As tens of thousands of Iowa business owners seek ways to stay financially afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering a range of low-interest loans and grants.
Jayne Armstrong, director of the SBA’s Iowa District Office, says the agency’s Electronic Loan Application portal crashed a few times last week due to extremely heavy traffic, but the website has been repaired.
“It’s up and running and it’s accepting applications and everything looks good, knock on wood,” Armstrong says. “We’re just getting slammed. It’s unprecedented how many businesses are reaching out.”
Crooks are doing their best to dupe Iowa business owners and Armstrong says the SBA will not call you out of the blue, so simply hang up on those potential scammers. “Nobody should be getting calls from us soliciting for the economic injury disaster loan program,” Armstrong says. “There is no immediate deadline for it — it’s not until November. People are getting calls for it, saying they have to hurry up and that there’s a charge to apply. There is absolutely no cost to apply.”
The $2.2 trillion aid package was signed into law by the president over the weekend, making available $367 billion in loans and grants to small businesses nationwide. “What we’re anticipating is, this could be a real big game-changer,” Armstrong says, “for all the businesses that feel like they’ve been left out or there’s different issues or that have programs haven’t been meeting their needs.”
For Iowa business owners who encounter a problem with the website, they can still download, print off and fill out the forms, scan them and upload them to the SBA. While it’s not ideal, Armstrong says there are 30-million small businesses nationwide that have been affected by the COVID-19 disaster.