As the pandemic impacted business after business, 20 businesses in Wadena received between $150,000 and $5.7 million each in Paycheck Protection Program loans with the Small Business Administration. Another 128 businesses received loans up to $150,000 each.

The Paycheck Protection Program is set up for small businesses to receive a loan to cover costs such as payroll, mortgages, rent and utilities with retaining employees as the primary focus. The loans are set with the forgiveness standards of employees keeping their jobs or resuming work quickly and sustaining salaries, according to the SBA.

The program is in its third round with 4,950,923 approved loans totaling $518,273,807,215 nationally as of July 19, according to the SBA. Minnesota has 98,138 approved loans totaling $11.2 billion through June 30, according to the SBA and United States Department of the Treasury.

For the 128 businesses, including self-employed individuals, non-profit organizations and independent contractors, the lender approved loans totaled $3,467,162.23, according to information analyzed by the Pioneer Journal from the SBA. Thirty-six sole proprietorships received a total of $513,644.59, 35 subchapter S corporations received $1,257,528.67 and 21 corporations received $1,086,134.

In the 20 lender approved loans for Wadena, the total ranges from between $11.5 million and $27.15 million, according to information analyzed by the Pioneer Journal from the SBA.

Tri-County Health Care received $5.7 million in April, according to Tri-County Health Care president and CEO Joel Beiswenger and vice president and chief financial officer Kim Aagard. With aspects of the business closed from mid-March to mid-May, the funds helped the 450 employees remain employed. Beiswenger estimates 45-50 of those could have been furloughed or laid off. Beiswenger said the new hospital project was suspended for at least a year due to financial uncertainties caused by the pandemic.

“Without the PPP, we would have had to furlough or lay off staff that then may not have still been available to us in our reopening. This allowed our planning to be more comprehensive, with more staff input and involvement in the process, pick up new work we hadn’t had in the past (such as patient and staff screening), and then to reopen in a better and quicker manner with experienced staff at the ready,” Beiswenger said in an email.

Beiswenger also expects long-term impacts on how the hospital is run, including in managing infections with more high tech equipment and personal protective equipment.

Homecrest applied in the first round and received $800,080 within 30 days after applying, according to CEO Tim Dejong. The funds helped the 100 employee business have 70% of employees return after being closed for five weeks, and within two to three weeks of reopening have 100% of employees back. Dejong said they also plan to add 15 positions in the fall.

“Our business is actually a fair amount stronger than we’d expected,” Dejong said. “We’re seeing a little bit of slowdown now as COVID has picked up speed. You can kind of tell in some areas of the country like Texas and Florida our retail activity is not as strong as it was a month ago but we overall are pretty pleased with the recovery.”

Hunkes Transfer also applied at the start of the program and received $250,000, according to owner and general manager Pat Hunke. Hunke said all 45 employees were able to remain busy due to the funds. There are also new measures in place with sanitation, masking and having truck drivers not come in contact with people on their routes when possible.

“It enabled us to keep a full payroll even though we had a couple of our customers that hold back a little bit on their … services just because of COVID related issues they were coming up with so it affected our business and we were able to keep full force and keep paying people to keep working,” Hunke said.

New applications

The SBA has reopened applications until August 8. Apply through an existing SBA lender, federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union or Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Visit for a list of SBA lenders.