The U.S. Small Business Administration approved loans to more than 400 Iowa businesses during the just-ended fiscal year, helping them to start or expand operations.
Jayne Armstrong, director of the SBA’s Iowa District Office, says the loans totaled nearly $170 million statewide for the fiscal year, that’s up from about $155 million the previous year.
“Sometimes, there are bigger deals out there that they’re looking for expansions or buying commercial real estate,” Armstrong says, “and also times when they just need small amounts of working capital.” Loans were approved to 405 Iowa businesses during the year, down from 455 the previous year. When the economy isn’t doing so well, that’s when people more often look to start their own businesses, so the decline in loan numbers is being interpreted as a positive.
“We don’t really get too hung up on the dollar volume as much,” Armstrong says. “We’d like to put more money on the street and to help more small businesses but it’s going to fluctuate every year. As long as we’re meeting the needs of the small business community, that’s the most important thing to us.” Figures from Iowa Workforce Development released Friday put Iowa’s unemployment rate for September at 2.5%. That’s unchanged from August and is the second-lowest in the nation. While that’s great in one respect, it’s also making progress a challenge for small merchants and large employers alike.
“A lot of small businesses are having a difficult time,” Armstrong says. “One of the biggest issues is the workforce issue and being able to identify workers and to attract workers.”
The SBA report says the 400-plus loans created 1,258 jobs in Iowa and retained an additional 2,645 jobs. She says the SBA remains a critical resource for small start-ups and expansions.