Between the floods and financial disasters, it’s been an up-and-down year for small businesses in Iowa. Joe Folsom, district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Iowa office, says the number of loans made this year statewide fell, but the total dollar amount rose.

Folsom says: "It’s really mixed in that respect. What we were seeing this past year was an increase in the size of the dollar amounts. Lending activity was focused a little more on quality, but given the overall economic conditions, we’re quite pleased with how this fiscal year went." The S.B.A. approved 741 loans to small businesses in Iowa this year, down from 822 last year.

The total dollar amount this year was nearly 189-million dollars, an increase from 182-million the year before. Folsom says he was a troubled to see the number of S.B.A. loans in three categories — veterans, minorities and women — all fell in Iowa during the past year.

"We’ve been making very sincere efforts to reach out to the various minority communities and the women’s groups," Folsom says. "On the minority loans, we’re down just slightly there, but we’re optimistic that with continued efforts on our part, and the lenders, that we’ll still be able to serve those communities well." S.B.A.. loans to rural Iowa businesses also fell, from 318 loans last year to 299 this year. Folsom says loans to start-ups and to existing businesses also dropped.

Folsom says, "The area that I really took note of where there’s significant change was in our international trade loans. We went from seven to 21 and more than tripled the dollar amount. With the way the dollar has been, at least up until recently, and with strong agricultural and other manufacturing exports out of Iowa, that may be partially the reason why we saw that change."

The total dollar amount for the international trade loans ballooned from over three-million last year to more than nine-million this year. For more details, see the S.B.A. website  .