A report from the U.S. Small Business Administration finds fewer businesses in Iowa used the agency to start up or expand during the past fiscal year, but the dollar amount loaned grew compared to the previous year. S.B.A. district director Joe Folsom says the number of loans fell by 270 statewide, but the amount loaned jumped by more than $30-million.

“We consider it a win, given the dynamics that have taken place over the last year,” Folsom says. “The previous year, we had the ARC loan program which ended September 30th of 2010 and that made up about 240 of the loans that we made the previous year.”

That ARC loan program was only temporary, created by a federal stimulus package. For the just-ended fiscal year, the S.B.A. approved 674 loans in Iowa for $293.6 million.

It compares to 944 loans for $261.3 million the previous year. While the number of loans dropped, Folsom says the dollar figures are “trending in the right direction.” “The dollar volume of the lending has been on a significant increase,” Folsom says. “In 2008, we did $188-million in lending and we’re at $293-million for this fiscal year.”

The highest numbers were recorded in three of Iowa’s most-populous counties: Polk, Linn and Scott. While Polk County was the leader by far with 107 loans worth 58-million dollars, a majority of Iowa’s 99 counties had only single-digits in the loan column. Folsom says the agency is continuing to reach out to those mostly-rural areas which may be more economically-challenged.

“One of the real positives here in Iowa is that even during the height of the recession, we did not have any significant drop in the lending activity,” Folsom says. “We’ve had this steady state, if not increasing state, during the recession.” The S-B-A has offices in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.

Learn more about the agency’s programs at: “www.sba.gov“.