The U.S. Small Business Administration today released some information about the Paycheck Protection Program, designed to help small companies retain workers during the pandemic. The chart shows the number of Iowa companies that received loans, by loan ranges. Ninety percent of Iowa companies that received the forgivable loans received loans that were less than $150,000. 

At least 523,205 Iowa jobs have been protected through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, designed to help businesses and nonprofit groups continue to pay workers during the pandemic, data released Monday by the federal agency shows.

Slightly more than 3,000 Iowa companies and nonprofit groups that received the loans reported that they either wouldn’t retain any jobs or did not say how many jobs they would retain, according to the SBA data.

Nationally, about 51 million jobs were supported by the $521 billion in loans issued, according to the data.

Since mid-March when Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered many of the state’s retail and entertainment businesses closed in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, 369,661 Iowans have filed first-time unemployment claims, Iowa Workforce Development data shows. The forced closures resulted in thousands of Iowans being laid off from their jobs.

Federal officials have said that without the Paycheck Protection Program, jobless numbers would have soared even higher.

The data trove includes the most detailed information released to date about the Paycheck Protection Program, which was part of the multitrillion-dollar federal coronavirus rescue program intended to help small businesses stay afloat and retain jobs during the pandemic-economic shutdown.  

The program allowed Exile Brewing Co. to continue paying employees even though they weren’t working because the establishment's dining room was closed, said R.J. Tursi, owner of the restaurant and brewery at 1514 Walnut St. in Des Moines. Before Exile received the SBA loan, which is forgivable if certain criteria are met, the business had laid off 30 of its 79 workers, he said.

When Exile received the loan, which was between $350,000 and $1 million, the laid-off workers began receiving paychecks even though they hadn’t yet been recalled to work, Tursi said. The loan was also used to pay employees who had been retained and to pay for utilities and a mortgage.

“We’re in a much, much better position right now than we would have been if this program had not been created,” Tursi said.

In Iowa, 58,463 small businesses and nonprofit entities received loans that ranged in size from $100 to $10 million, according to the SBA information. Ninety percent of the loans were for less than $150,000. 

Forty-eight Iowa businesses received loans that ranged between $5 million and $10 million, according to the data. Among them is Anderson Erickson Dairy Co., which is based in Des Moines.

“This loan has helped provide stable jobs for employees during a very difficult time,” said Kim Peter, director of marketing and public relations for Anderson Erickson. The company has 331 workers who were retained, according to the SBA data. 

Peter said the loan also helped offset an estimated 25% decline in revenue since the start of the pandemic. Many of the dairy company’s customers are school districts, universities and restaurants, all of which were closed for several weeks, Peter said. 

And even though restaurants are now open, “they don’t have foot traffic to stay open the hours that they had been open before the pandemic,” she said. That means fewer AE products sold in those businesses, she said.

Business Publications Corp., which publishes the Business Record, also received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program. The loan enabled the company to retain the 35 employees it had at the time, said Suzanna de Baca, the company’s president.

“During this unprecedented time, the need for media coverage has been greater than ever,” de Baca said. “The PPP loan we received enabled us to maintain our full staff at full salary levels while many of our media peers did layoffs, salary reductions and furloughs."

Among the information included in Monday’s data release are the names of the companies and nonprofit groups that received forgivable loans and their locations; the number of jobs retained; information about the business or organization’s owner, including their gender and race and whether they are a veteran; and loan amounts. 

While specific loan amounts have been released for companies and nonprofits that received less than $150,000, the names of the organizations that received the aid were redacted. Companies that received more than $150,000 were identified by name, but rather than identifying specific loan amounts, only the ranges of loan amounts were released. Those ranges include $150,000 to $350,000, $350,000 to $1 million, $1 million to $2 million, $2 million to $5 million, and $5 million to $10 million.

In June, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress that only general information about the loan program would be released. He said that names of loan recipients and the size of loan they received would not be released because the information was “proprietary.” 

The release today of some loan information comes after weeks of legal challenges by major media companies seeking public access to the data.

“It is troubling that the SBA is not seeing the importance of providing detailed information about the entities that received these loans,” Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, told the Business Record. “This assistance comes from the taxpayers, and the taxpayers deserve to know which companies received their money.  

“There already were concerns that the government was helping favored businesses while others were being passed over for the loans. The very limited disclosure the SBA is now making does not remove those concerns.”

A review by the Washington Post of the SBA data found that private equity-backed chains and companies owned by members of Congress received money from the Paycheck Protection Program. 

More information
To view the Iowa businesses who received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, click here.