The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the American economy like nothing else since the Great Depression. The unprecedented pandemic required an extraordinary response — and the president, U.S. Small Business Administration, Treasury and Congress stepped up to save America’s small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The SBA implemented the highly successful Paycheck Protection Program in the last week of March, standing up the program in just over seven days. The number of PPP loans made in the next three months through Aug. 8, constituted more loans than the SBA had guaranteed in its entire history. It was a monumental task, and one which raised awareness of the SBA as one of the most impactful even though it is one of the smallest federal agencies.

The PPP provided nearly 255,000 businesses in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska with more than $22.6 billion and a financial lifeline that allowed them to pay their bills and keep their staff on payroll while they were idled during the lockdown.

The PPP program reached across geographic locations, economic regions, including rural and underserved communities, and all industries. Nationally, more than 5.2 million PPP loans were approved, which distributed more than $525 billion. This extraordinary work was greatly aided by strong partnership with over 5,500 lenders and our valuable resource partners.

Regionally, our SBA staff was and still is very busy answering questions about the PPP program and our Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Since April 1, we have logged more than 30,000 phone calls and assistance requests to our district offices. And all the while, staff members provided lender and public trainings.

Almost everyone agrees the forgivable PPP loan program made bouncing back by small businesses dramatically easier. All a business had to do was apply through a lender and then spend the loan proceeds responsibly as outlined by the program.

I have been gratified recently to visit some very grateful PPP recipients and have even found a few who used their pandemic downtime, EIDL loan proceeds and resource partner help to expand their businesses — either online or by increasing in size. How remarkable! These small business owners looked to the future despite the situation and made good use of the resources available. Like so many small business owners, they showed the determination and passion needed to overcome, even during a worldwide pandemic.

The SBA continues to look after the needs of small businesses with our longstanding commitment to help as many small businesses and nonprofit organizations as possible, through every circumstance.

Tom Salisbury serves as the Region VII regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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