Published: June 25, 2024 | Updated: June 24, 2024

SBA is there for North Idaho businesses

Joel Nania, Melanie Norton and Beto Yarce visited the Coeur d'Alene Press in May to discuss what the Small Business Administration can do for North Idaho businesses.

Joel Nania, Melanie Norton and Beto Yarce visited the Coeur d'Alene Press in May to discuss what the Small Business Administration can do for North Idaho businesses.

COEUR d’ALENE — The onset of COVID-19 and the need for many businesses to take out loans brought the Small Business Administration in contact with more entrepreneurs than had previously come their way. 

The SBA made or guaranteed more than $1 trillion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster loans and grants, helping more than 10 million small businesses through its relief programs.

In a meeting last month with the North Idaho Business Journal, Beto Yarce, Melanie Norton and Joel Nania detailed some of the SBA resources that have been evolved or are being offered to businesses.

“There were about 5 1/2 million business starts, Idaho specifically had 31,000 and Washington, 97,000 last year alone,” Norton said. 

Increasing lending limits has been one way the agency has been evolving in response to the rising cost of inflation.

“We have a focus that’s making the businesses that survived the pandemic as resilient as possible and making sure they’re aware of the resources we have,” Nania said.

If businesses encounter federal regulations they believe are impediments, need advocacy or are experiencing difficulties getting financing and being turned down by lenders, the SBA wants to be made aware of problems and get started on working on them.

“There’s no wrong door, you can call any one of us and depending on the source or the issue, you can connect with us,” Norton said.

No-cost business advising services and traditional lending and financing are among the resources offered by the federal agency.

“We’re also on the ground to connect with businesses and entrepreneurs with the resources they need at every stage of that business life cycle,” Norton said.

In charge of a region spanning Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, Yarce said the overarching goal for the SBA is to find ways to build up the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Whether businesses need access to the micro loans or troubleshoot solutions to make the economy more sustainable, there are initiatives available through the organization.

“We work behind the scenes on behalf of the small business to make sure that business gets results,” Yarce said.

The SBA’s Investing in America program includes resources to boost clean energy and energy efficiency through rebates, government contracting and subcontracting and manufacturing grants for small subcontractors.

Turning past challenges into opportunities to learn and grow while building up meaningful connections and trust as a governmental agency is a source of excitement for Yarce.

“It’s a whole spectrum. How do we meet people where they are?” Yarce asked.

One of those methods is through local chambers of commerce.

Nania is a strong advocate of surveying local chambers in the region for outreach purposes and to record an impression of where things stand when it comes to businesses. If there are commonalities in issues across counties, the local chambers of commerce often hold indications of those recurring issues or trends. 

Learn more about SBA resources here:

Melanie Norton is district director for Washington state and North Idaho: 206-604-2957 and

Joel Nania Spokane branch officer: 509-353-2810 and

Beto Yarce regional administrator for Washington state, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska: 202-770-9948 and