Iowa has no major military bases, but the state is outpacing some of its neighbors in a program designed to help veterans and their families launch or expand small businesses. Joe Folsom, district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Iowa, says the Patriot Express program has done exceptionally well in the Iowa veterans community.
Folsom says, "It would be National Guard, Reserve, veterans, spouses of active duty, it’s really everyone that’s a member of a military family that wants to get started in a small business." Since the program made its debut in June of 2007, he says 26 Patriot Express loans have been approved in Iowa, worth more than two-and-a-half million dollars.
That’s better than the results in nearly 20 other states nationwide, including Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota.
"When you start comparing it to the neighboring states, it’s a real plus for the members of the military community that we’ve been reaching out to and also the lenders who’ve been engaged in this project," he says.
Folsom says it’s an attractive program to veterans and their families. Folsom says, "It’s using some of our most expeditious tools, the simple, most efficient tools that we’ve got to provide financing working through our lenders." He says the two-dozen-plus businesses started in Iowa using the program range from a landscaping firm to a chiropractic clinic.
Nationwide, the program has helped secure small business loans to nearly 2,900 veterans and military spouses, passing the $250-million threshold.