NORTHEASTERN MINNESOTA — When the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, small business owners began to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a federal assistance initiative issued in response to the economic impacts of the global health crisis. The PPP was a loan designed to help businesses keep their workers on the payroll during the COVID 19 crisis, and the loans could be issued by federally insured banks and credit unions.
American Bank was one of the local banks who could issue the PPP loans. It has nine branches across the Iron Range, and between April and August it processed over 300 PPP loans totaling $62 million. American Bank and other local lenders helped sole proprietors, LLCs and corporations successfully apply for PPP loans that can become forgivable if employee retention criteria are met and if the funds are used for eligible expenses.
“By the end of March most of our employees were working from home and responding to the needs of small businesses across the region. Some were longstanding customers, and some were reaching out to our bank for the first time due to the national crisis,” said Rob Marwick, American Bank CEO. “We collaborated with many other community banks to try and get help to all who needed it. We established new relationships with area businesses and solidified our existing customer relationships.”
In northeastern Minnesota, between April and August this year, over 125 lending institutions assisted with issuing over 2,360 PPP loans.
“Local businesses, with the help of local banks and credit unions, successfully accessed much needed federal assistance through PPP that kept people employed,” said Mark Phillips, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation (IRRR) commissioner. “Businesses can also apply for additional assistance through a special loan program funded by our agency. Our region’s economy is comprised of strong businesses with strong leaders, and we are committed to helping them persevere through the COVID-19 challenge.”
To assist local businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, the Taconite Area Business Relief Loan Program was funded by IRRR. It offers two percent interest loans of up to $40,000 that may be used as working capital or for any legal purposes. No repayment on the loans will be due for the first six months, followed by 60 payments of principal and interest. Applicants must intend to reopen if currently closed due to the pandemic. $1.4 million of the $5 million has been approved for lending, and over $3.6 million is still available. The program is administered by the Entrepreneur Fund. Visit blog.entrepreneurfund.org/ announcing-the-launch-ofthe tabrlp or contact Matt Sjoberg (matt.sjoberg@ state.mn.us or 218-735-3037) for more details.
Source: The Ranger, a publication of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation.