The Iowa District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration is wrapping up its fiscal year with COVID-19 still casting a long shadow.

Jayne Armstrong, district director of the SBA in Iowa, says the current year is closing out a ways behind the previous year, which saw unprecedented borrower and lender incentives to aid in the pandemic recovery. Many of those incentives have long since expired, making Fiscal ’22 more lackluster.

“SBA in Iowa, we did 466 loans last year for over $243 million,” Armstrong says. “We were down a little bit from the year before, just by ten loans.” The full amount loaned in the state, however, is down more than $20 million from the previous year. Armstrong says Iowa’s hospitality industry, in particular, is continuing to face challenges with workforce shortages and supply chain troubles.

“Businesses are still struggling,” Armstrong says. “We’re not through everything yet, but I think we’re on track with the number of loans that we’re seeing and the access to capital and we’re also hitting a lot of new markets.” Of the year’s 466 loans made in Iowa, she says 252 of them — more than half — were to new business start-ups or to finance changes in ownership. Armstrong was upbeat about SBA successes in Iowa during the fiscal year, noting sizable increases in the percentage of loans being made to both minorities and veterans. “We remain committed as ever before to helping our small businesses get through the recovery period and getting them back on track,” Armstrong says. “It’s a process. It’s not happening overnight.”

Other successes include the Iowa district winning two national awards, one for diversity, inclusion and equity, while the other award is going to Dave Lentell the Des Moines office’s lead lender relations specialist and public information officer. Lentell, of Waukee, is the SBA’s national MVP for 2022.