The Iowa District office of the U.S. Small Business Administration is wrapping up its busiest-ever fiscal year of providing traditional and emergency loans to thousands of Iowa businesses.
The SBA’s state director Jayne Armstrong says in a typical year, they process around 400 loans. This past year, with the pandemic that caused widespread economic turmoil, the figure exceeded 79,000 loans. The agency offers two “traditional” loan programs.
“We increased over last year, not only the number of loans but also dramatically on the dollar volume,” Armstrong says, “to start-ups and to existing businesses.”
The value of those traditional loans jumped from around $168-million last fiscal year to a total of $233-million this fiscal year.
The district, with offices in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, also approved more than 17,000 loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and another 61,000 through the Paycheck Protection Program.
“On the PPP side, of course, that helps to keep the employees employed and on the payroll during the closures,” Armstrong says. “A lot of small businesses aren’t out of the woods yet. It’s critical that we get this next round of the stimulus package, whenever that comes.”
Calling 2020 an “unprecedented” year for the agency, Armstrong says the loan volume demonstrates the SBA’s commitment to Iowa’s small business community.
“The unsung hero of the CARES Act was the SBA Debt Relief Initiative which SBA was making six months of payments on existing SBA loans and for all new SBA loans,” Armstrong says. “That really made a difference for a lot of small businesses to keep them afloat with helping them with the cashflow.”
More than 95-percent of Iowa’s businesses are considered small businesses, so the shut-downs due to COVID-19 were especially hard on multiple industries. Armstrong says a few key federal programs helped to keep many thousands of Iowa merchants in business during the exceptionally challenging times.