Despite the foul economy, the Iowa office of the U.S. Small Business Administration just concluded one of its best years on record, both for the number of loans given and the amount of money lent. S.B.A. district director Joe Folsom says the fiscal year that ended September 30th was a pleasant surprise.
“Last year, we did 741 loans and this year we’ve done 852,” Folsom says. “The dollar amounts have been significant. We’ve gone up from 188 to 210-million.” Loans were made to small businesses in 84 of Iowa’s 99 counties and Folsom says there was an even balance between loans to start-ups versus existing businesses.
“It’s just been on a steep upward climb for the last three months,” Folsom says. “Actually, for September, we did 149 loans for $40-million, which is a record.” Some 50-thousand Iowans lost their jobs in the past year, and Folsom says it’s likely a large number of the recent S.B.A. loans were to those folks who were industrious enough want to become their own bosses. He says he’s thrilled Iowa’s bucking the economic trends and launching so many new ventures.
“In Iowa, we entered into the recession later than a number of other parts of the country and we didn’t go into it as deep as some other areas, also,” Folsom says. “I don’t feel that we’re seeing the same depths of the effects that the two coasts have.” Iowa’s most populous counties saw the most loans, with the top five being: Polk County with 137 loans; Linn with 79 loans; Scott with 76; Dubuque with 44 and Woodbury with 34.