The COVID 19 pandemic has uprooted the American economy like nothing else since the Great Depression. With the implementation of social distancing guidelines, and entire business sectors shutting down for weeks on end, millions of businesses were on the brink of collapse without some sort of emergency assistance. This unprecedented pandemic required an extraordinary response - and the President, SBA, Treasury, and Congress stepped up to save America's small businesses and non-profit organizations.
Less than five months ago President Trump signed the CARES Act into law, establishing the very critical Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The mission: to keep people on payroll, keep businesses in business, and help the economy bounce back as quickly as possible. Since that time, the program approved more than 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion in emergency relief funding. Even though the total dollar amount of loans is huge, the average borrower loan approval remained just over $100,000. The program reached across geographic locations, economic regions, including rural and underserved communities, and all industries saving millions of American jobs in all sectors of the economy.
This extraordinary work was greatly aided by our strong partnership with over 5,500 lenders of all sizes located around the country - 82 percent of lenders hold less than $1 billion in assets. Small businesses, non-profits and religious organizations utilized these emergency loans to keep their employees on their payrolls, as well as sustain and even retool their operations. The SBA and Treasury Department, listened to the needs of small businesses, non-profits, and stakeholders - coordinating with Capitol Hill, and made real-time adjustments to ensure PPP was helping as many small businesses and non-profit organizations as possible. The SBA and Treasury will continue to work together to help small businesses and non-profit organizations through this challenging time.
Small businesses are the driving force of our economic stability and are leading the way to allow our nation to rebound safely. Businesses across the country have utilized the PPP as a much-needed lifeline that is empowering them to continue serving their communities. The Paycheck Protection Program is accomplishing its mission, and the numbers back it up. Businesses in sectors such as hospitality, agriculture, construction, and leisure heavily relied on CARES Act loans. The PPP also played a crucial role in supporting rural communities, which in turn has saved thousands of main street businesses and hometown economies.
The last several months have been very challenging for business owners across our nation, but the PPP has helped preserve the American Dream of entrepreneurship. It has offered a helping hand to small businesses, helped them pay their employees, and enabled them to keep their lights on. I am proud of the lenders, credit unions, Community Financial Depository Institutions (CDFIs) and rural community banks that partnered with the SBA to disperse more than 20 times the amount of loans in four months than the SBA provided small businesses in the entirety of 2019. Together, we have delivered vital assistance to our small business community and built a foundation for many more years of economic success and job growth. The SBA will continue to work with our lending partners and PPP businesses to make the loan forgiveness process as simple and efficient as possible.
The SBA is proud of the role it played in rolling out, and administering ,the Paycheck Protection Program. As always, www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection
(Dan Nordberg serves as SBA's National Director for Rural Affairs and Region 8 Administrator based in Denver. He oversees the agency's programs and services in Colorado, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming)