Article by Andrew Van Dam in the Washington Post. March 15, 2020
In the first few chaotic weeks of the Paycheck Protection Program, federal officials and banks throughout the country struggled to get bailout funds to small businesses as layoffs and furloughs climbed into the tens of millions.
But there was one exception, a place where loans found their mark more quickly than any other: North Dakota.
Small businesses there secured more PPP funds, relative to the state’s workforce, than their competitors in any other state — more than $5,000 per private-sector worker as of May 8, according to a Washington Post analysis.
In the program’s troubled first round in particular, the state put business lenders in the rest of the country to shame. North Dakota small businesses appeared to have a significant advantage in administration and organization.
What’s their secret? Much credit goes to the century-old Bank of North Dakota, which — even before the PPP officially rolled out — coordinated and educated local bankers in weekly conference calls and flurries of calls and emails.