To the editor,

In April 2020, the federal government established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a new $349 billion program to keep workers employed, keep businesses open and help the economy recover as quickly as possible. Within hours of the announcement, North Dakota lenders were filling my inbox with requests for more information, eager to do their part in serving our state’s small business community.

Their commitment has never stopped. In the last 15 months, our state’s banks and credit unions stepped up to work long hours connecting small businesses to much-needed capital.

Our staff has countless examples of lenders contacting our office to discuss program guidelines in hopes of maximizing benefits for one of their customers. At 1% interest, these lenders are not making a lot of profit, especially for the work that they are putting into some of these deals. They are making the effort to help their clients be more successful.

Our combined efforts have been incredibly fruitful. In North Dakota alone, lenders approved over 50,000 loans providing roughly $2.8 billion in aid through the Paycheck Protection Program.

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Gov. Burgum declared May as Thank Your Bank or Credit Union Month, and as that month closes, I couldn’t be more sincere in my appreciation for the individuals and institutions who partner with the Small Business Administration to provide resources for small businesses. Without the lending community and their tireless partnership, we would have been unable to support our business community with the tenacity and effectiveness that has been a game-changer for our state’s business owners and entrepreneurs.

Al Haut

SBA North Dakota district director, U.S. Small Business Administration