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Local
breaking top story
See which local businesses got millions from the Paycheck Protection Program

Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify that there were many companies among the data that did not answer race, gender or veteran status ownership questions.

WATERLOO — Tens of millions of dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program went to a few big businesses and employers in Black Hawk County, while thousands of other Iowa businesses received small loans averaging around $30,000, according to new data provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The SBA on Monday released incomplete data on each of the 4.9 million loans made to businesses nationwide as the economy reeled during this spring’s coronavirus-related business closures.

Those loans, according to businesses receiving them, saved upward of 20,000 jobs in Black Hawk County alone.

“The PPP loan absolutely gave us a rope to grab onto,” said Kris Hansen, CEO of Western Home Communities in Cedar Falls.

He said more than of 200 jobs at his company may have been lost otherwise, about a fourth of his workforce. “We still don’t know where this is all heading, but at least it gave us time to catch our breath and make data-driven and cognitive decisions about how to react to this.”

Western Home was one of four companies in Black Hawk County — and among 48 companies in Iowa — that received at least $5 million in PPP loans “designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll,” according to the SBA’s website.

Bertch Cabinet Manufacturing and Cedar Valley Medical Specialists in Waterloo, Harrison Truck Centers in Elk Run Heights and Western Home Communities were each the recipient of between $5 million and $10 million in PPP loans apiece, according to the SBA, which only listed the range of the loans, not exact amounts.

Bertch noted in SBA documentation its PPP loan retained 500 jobs, while Cedar Valley Medical Specialists said it retained 379 jobs, Harrison Truck Centers said it retained 477 jobs and Western Home said it retained 500 jobs.

Three of the four loans were processed at Farmers State Bank, according to the SBA, while Western Home processed its loan through BankIowa.

Western Home received $6.4 million, Hansen said. The company includes Western Home, four other long-term care facilities, Diamond Event Center and three restaurants, and manages several other facilities in the area.

“The PPP is providing much-needed relief to millions of American small businesses, supporting more than 51 million jobs,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a release. “Today’s release of loan data strikes the appropriate balance of providing the American people with transparency, while protecting sensitive payroll and personal income information of small businesses.”

The loans will be forgiven if at least 60% of funds were used for payroll. Otherwise, loans accrue 1% interest.

Hansen said his organization has spent 94% of the money on payroll and doesn’t anticipate having to pay any of it back.

“This overall was a very good thing, and very impactful thing,” he said.

Though the SBA said the PPP loans “have reached diverse communities proportionally, across all income levels and demographics,” the data provided by the SBA show that, of those answering the demographic questions of race, gender and veteran status, all indicated they were either white-owned or did not answer the question.

After this story ran, James White of Impact Marketing and a spokesperson for CVMS, said though his company did not answer the question on race, according to the data, CVMS includes "members from diverse backgrounds of at least seven different cultures."

Only two of those answering the gender question indicated they were female-owned, and only one indicated they were owned by a military veteran: Schumacher Elevator in Denver.

That’s despite 15.2% of Iowa businesses being female-owned, 12.9% being nonwhite owned and 15.2% being majority veteran-owned, according to the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

$2-$5 million

Six Black Hawk County companies received between $2 and $5 million each.

Bossard of Cedar Falls said it retained 272 jobs with its loan, New Aldaya Lifescapes in Cedar Falls — filing under Cedar Falls Lutheran Home — said it retained 390 jobs, Exceptional Persons Inc. of Waterloo retained 293 jobs, Goodwill Industries of Northeast Iowa in Waterloo retained 500 jobs, Professional Office Services of Waterloo kept 256 jobs, and Young Plumbing and Heating of Waterloo kept 121 jobs, according to the SBA.

Of the 278 Iowa companies receiving between $2 and $5 million, just five indicated they were nonwhite owned, six were owned by a woman and five were owned by a military veteran. None of those was among Black Hawk County companies.

$1-$2 million

Out of 526 Iowa companies receiving between $1 and $2 million in PPP loans each, 24 are in Black Hawk County. Those companies said the loans would help retain 2,956 jobs.

They were:

  • Advanced Heat Treat of Waterloo, 144 jobs.
  • Pillar of Cedar Valley (filing under Black Hawk Nursing and Rehabilitation) of Waterloo, 166 jobs.
  • Black Hawk Engineering of Cedar Falls, no jobs listed as retained.
  • Cedar Valley Catholic Schools of Waterloo, 101 jobs.
  • Cedar Valley Corp. of Waterloo, 83 jobs.
  • Cedar Valley Hospice of Waterloo, 91 jobs.
  • Dan Deery Motor Company of Waterloo, 95 jobs.
  • Dan Deery Motor Company of Cedar Falls, 102 jobs.
  • Distek Integration of Cedar Falls, 97 jobs.
  • Families First Counseling Services of Iowa of Waterloo, 200 jobs.
  • Friendship Village (filing under Friends of Faith Retirement Homes) of Waterloo, 274 jobs.
  • Gray Transportation of Waterloo, 160 jobs.
  • -Hogan-Hansen of Waterloo, 81 jobs.
  • K&W Electric of Cedar Falls, 108 jobs.
  • KBFD Management of Waterloo, 123 jobs.
  • Mudd of Cedar Falls, 130 jobs.
  • Northeast Iowa Family Practice Center (filing under Northeast Iowa Medical Education Foundation) of Waterloo, 70 jobs.
  • Peoples Community Health Clinic of Waterloo, 148 jobs.
  • Rydell Motor Company of Waterloo, 138 jobs.
  • Short’s Travel Management of Waterloo, 155 jobs.
  • Spinutech of Cedar Falls, 75 jobs.
  • Warren Transport of Waterloo, 143 jobs.
  • Waterloo Warehousing and Service, 105 jobs.
  • Witham Auto Centers of Waterloo, 167 jobs.

Of the 526 Iowa companies, just six indicated they were nonwhite-owned, none in Black Hawk County. A total of 31 — including Cedar Valley Hospice and Peoples Clinic — indicated they were female-owned, and only five — including Witham Auto Centers — indicated they were veteran-owned.

$350K-$1 million

Another 93 companies in Black Hawk County received loans between $350,000 and $1 million, out of 1,820 Iowa companies receiving a PPP loan in that range.

Of those in Black Hawk County:

Waterloo: 51 Four female-owned (Awre Inc., Back Alley Printers, Beecher Field Walker Morris Hoffman and Johnson P.C., Crystal Distribution Services, Iowa Wall Systems, North Star Community Services), one veteran-owned (Schoitz Engineering)

Cedar Falls: 34.

Hudson: 3 (Bill Colwell Ford, 56 jobs; Foundation Service Corp., 42 jobs; and Municipal Pipe Tool Company, 46 jobs).

Janesville: 2 (B&B Manufacturing, 57 jobs; and Modern Builders, 88 jobs).

Dunkerton: 1 (Dunkerton Cooperative Elevator, 25 jobs).

Gilbertville: 1 (Bosco Catholic School System, 43 jobs).

Jesup: 1 (Corkery Transport, 36 jobs).

$150K-$350K

Out of 3,264 Iowa companies receiving PPP loans between $150,000 and $350,000, 135 companies were in Black Hawk County.

In Black Hawk County, none of those companies indicated they had anything but white owners, eight indicated they were female-owned and one was veteran-owned:

Waterloo: 75 (four female-owned — Agstaff Inc., Annie M. Kontos P.C., Locke Funeral Services and Performance Carbide).

Cedar Falls: 49 (four female-owned — Arthur L. Davis Publishing Agency, Cedar Brook Dental Group, Performance Bodies and Scratch Cupcakery).

Hudson: 4 (Degener-Juhl Farm Partnership, no jobs listed; Holmes Welding and Fabrication, 12 jobs; Hudson Hardware, Plumbing and Heating, 22 jobs; and Nutri-Ject Systems, no jobs listed).

Jesup: 4 (B&B Farm Store, 24 jobs; Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, 14 jobs; Hawkeye Metal Spinning (veteran-owned), 15 jobs; Kite Construction, 24 jobs).

Janesville: 2 (CV Corporation, 22 jobs; and Richway Industries, 28 jobs).

Dunkerton: 1 (Bart Brothers Construction, 19 jobs).

Loans under $150,000

The SBA did not name business that received loans under $150,000.

Among Black Hawk County cities, Waterloo had the most businesses apply and received the most money, Cedar Falls retained the most jobs from those small loans, and La Porte City received the most money by population.

Dunkerton had the highest cost to retain one job, at more than $9,000, and Elk Run Heights had the highest average amount a business received, at more than $60,000, though only two businesses in that city received PPP loans under $150,000.

Cedar Falls

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 562.

Total amount of money received: $20,436,094.

Average amount of money received: $36,363.

Jobs retained: 3,934.

Cost to retain one job: $5,195.

Money received per capita: $498.

Nonwhite owned businesses receiving loans: 8 (1.4%).

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 55 (9.8%).

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 3 (0.5%).

Dunkerton

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 24.

Total amount of money received: $531,974.

Average amount of money received: $22,166.

Jobs retained: 58.

Cost to retain one job: $9,172.

Money received per capita: $635.

Nonwhite owned businesses receiving loans: 0

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 1 (4.2%).

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 0.

Elk Run Heights

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 2.

Total amount of money received: $123,954.

Average amount of money received: $61,977.

Jobs retained: 20.

Cost to retain one job: $6,198.

Money received per capita: $107.

Nonwhite owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 0.

Evansdale

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 35.

Total amount of money received: $1,070,994.

Average amount of money received: $30,600.

Jobs retained: 156.

Cost to retain one job: $6,865.

Money received per capita: $225.

Nonwhite owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 5 (14.3%).

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 0.

Gilbertville

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 8.

Total amount of money received: $207,386.

Average amount of money received: $25,923.

Jobs retained: 33.

Cost to retain one job: $6,284.

Money received per capita: $284.

Non-white owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 0.

Hudson

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 51.

Total amount of money received: $1,343,281.

Average amount of money received: $26,339.

Jobs retained: 227.

Cost to retain one job: $5,918.

Money received per capita: $545.

Nonwhite owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 4 (7.8%).

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 0.

Janesville

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 26.

Total amount of money received: $479,642.

Average amount of money received: $18,448.

Jobs retained: 77.

Cost to retain one job: $6,229.

Money received per capita: $488.

Nonwhite owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 4 (15.4%).

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 0.

Jesup

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 77.

Total amount of money received: $1,761,484.

Average amount of money received: $22,876.

Jobs retained: 276.

Cost to retain one job: $6,382.

Money received per capita: $650.

Non-white owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 3 (3.9%).

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 0.

La Porte City

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 54.

Total amount of money received: $1,570,113.

Average amount of money received: $29,076.

Jobs retained: 202.

Cost to retain one job: $7,773.

Money received per capita: $695.

Non-white owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 4 (7.4%).

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 0.

Raymond

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 4.

Total amount of money received: $95,617.

Average amount of money received: $23,904.

Jobs retained: 12.

Cost to retain one job: $7,968.

Money received per capita: $119.

Nonwhite owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 0.

Washburn

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 10.

Total amount of money received: $385,807.

Average amount of money received: $38,581.

Jobs retained: 89.

Cost to retain one job: $4,335.

Money received per capita: $440.

Non-white owned businesses receiving loans: 0.

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 1 (10%).

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 0.

Waterloo

Number of businesses receiving loans less than $150,000: 653.

Total amount of money received: $23,266,548.

Average amount of money received: $35,630.

Jobs retained: 3,659.

Cost to retain one job: $6,359.

Money received per capita: $343.

Nonwhite owned businesses receiving loans: 8.

Female-owned businesses receiving loans: 32 (4.9%).

Businesses owned by military veterans receiving loans: 8 (1.3%).


Local
breaking featured
WATCH NOW: Missing man Michael Jensen found alive in Waterloo

WATERLOO – Four days of searching through farm fields and backwoods in sweltering heat and torrential rains came to an end when Larry Lehman stepped out of his pickup at around 11 a.m. Friday.

Larry Lehman with BDC Group found Michael Jensen in a ditch at the intersection of San Marnan Drive and Hammond Avenue.

Lehman, who locates underground utility lines for BDC Group, noticed a man wearing what appeared to be a bike helmet in the shallow drainage ditch at the corner of San Marnan Drive and Hammond Avenue.

The helmet, actually a fall protection helmet for seizures, belonged to 45-year-old Mike Jensen, who had fled Ravenwood Care Center almost a week earlier.

“I’m super excited, not that he was in that situation, but that we found him alive and that he lives for another day,” Lehman said.

Family on Friday said Jensen is in serious condition at MercyOne Medical Center in Waterloo.

Lehman wasn’t aware of Jensen’s disappearance before finding him. He lives in Marion and occasionally takes assignments in the Waterloo area.

“It just so happens that I had this ticket, and I was going to knock it out because it was for the weekend. I just think God put me here for a reason, that’s why I held onto the ticket,” Lehman said.

Lehman’s discovery came as some 200 people trudged through thickly wooded areas and partially flooded fields north of Cedar Falls, the most daunting terrain yet in the hunt for Jensen.

Michael Jensen

Jensen, a former music instructor at Wartburg College in Waverly, suffers from a brain tumor that causes seizures and requires around-the-clock supervision and care. He is also prone to running away, authorities said. He climbed out the window of his room at Ravenwood on Monday and disappeared into the night.

Searches in the immediate area around the care center came up empty, and the operation was moved to Janesville on Wednesday after what appeared to be credible sightings that placed him along Waverly Road south of the town.

Instead, Jensen was found in the ditch near a drainage culvert —- among weeds and 8-foot tall cattails about three quarters of a mile from Ravenwood. His head was out of the water, but his arms and legs were in the creek.

“I just saw the helmet, and I saw the head and I looked again and I saw his chest was going up along with his arm that was resting on his chest,” Lehman said.

He called 911 and flagged down a passing driver to help move Jensen. The passerby recognized Jensen from news accounts.

Paramedics with Waterloo Fire Rescue arrived a short time later.

“I think he was just in a state because as soon as they got him up there and started talking to him, his eyes opened up. He was breathing and everything,” Lehman said.



PHOTOS: Search for Mike Jensen

PHOTOS: Search for Mike Jensen

Local
Courier announces new newsroom leadership

WATERLOO — A respected journalist and newspaper veteran with nearly three decades of experience has been named North Iowa Editor overseeing The Courier.

Jaci Smith was named to oversee The Courier and also manages news operations at the Mason City Globe Gazette and is editor of the Lee Enterprises’ North Iowa Media group, which also includes the Summitt-Tribune and Mitchell County Press News.

Meta Hemenway-Forbes has been promoted to local news editor at The Courier.

“The Courier has a long history of leadership and community partnership in our newsroom. We are excited to announce the appointment of Jaci Smith to North Iowa editor and the promotion of Meta Hemenway-Forbes to local news editor,” said David Adams, Courier general manager.

“Jaci will oversee the region encompassing Waterloo and Mason City. Meta will oversee the Courier staff and fill in the leadership role recently vacated by Nancy Newhoff,” he said.

Smith became editor at Mason City in 2019 after serving as digital planning editor for The News Journal in Delaware, and its award-winning website, DelawareOnline.com. She has worked as a reporter and newsroom leader at publications in Minnesota, California and New Jersey. Smith began her career as a copy editor at the Racine, Wis., Journal-Times.

“North Iowa is such a vibrant place, filled with a diverse population, and with lots of stories waiting to be told. I’m looking forward to getting to know the Cedar Valley area and the people who live and work there,” Smith said.

Hemenway-Forbes, a Waterloo native, previously served as deputy editor and special projects manager. Hemenway-Forbes has been with the Courier for 23 years as a reporter, features editor and niche publications specialist. She attended Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, and Wartburg College in Waverly.

“I’ve been fortunate to work for so many years alongside such a talented staff and to be a part of telling the stories of the Cedar Valley. I’m excited to continue helping lead that effort,” she said.


Education
breaking top story
UNI international students fear new ICE rules could derail graduation plans

Helen Harton

Kristi Marchesani

WATERLOO – For Estefania Ravasio Corrales, the coronavirus is a double whammy. There’s a risk of becoming seriously ill. For her and other international students, it also brings risk of deportation.

A recent change in federal regulations for international students has left the University of Northern Iowa senior in fear she may not graduate. Students studying in the U.S. on F-1 visas are barred from taking classes solely online.

“It’s scary and disheartening,” she said. “A lot of plans are falling apart.”

International students attending U.S. colleges that plan to operate entirely online this fall because of COVID-19 are not allowed to remain in the country, according to new regulations released Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

UNI has announced plans to resume classes with a mix of in-person and online courses this year, allowing international students to stay — for now.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” said Ravasio Corrales of Perez Celedon, Costa Rica. “The current decision could change at any moment because the numbers are rising here and in other states.”

Under the new rules, the State Department will not issue visas to international students who study online, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow them to enter the country.

Due to the pandemic, Ravasio Corrales’ internship and testing required for her to graduate were canceled.

“We are anxious and nervous because you can’t plan. We don’t know what the next step is going to be,” she said.

If coronavirus cases continue to increase and UNI classes return to an online-only format, hundreds of international students will be forced to return home at a time when some countries are restricting entry to anyone from the U.S. Students who are unable to return home could face deportation. Some face financial challenges to even get home on such short notice. Ravasio Corrales said flights to her home in Costa Rica can cost between $1,000 and $2,000.

If she can’t get home on her own, she faces the deportation process, which can mean being sent to a detention center for sometimes lengthy stays.

“We don’t know if we’re going to have to fly out in two weeks or four months,” she said.

UNI’s international offices have been inundated with concerns about the announcement, said Kristi Marchesani, associate director of admissions and director of international recruitment and admissions at UNI.

Nothing positive

Last fall, 385 students from 60 countries were enrolled at UNI, a number Marchesani expects will decrease.

“The decrease in new international students in the U.S. that we have started to experience in the past years is an unfortunate trend that only weakens the university experience for everyone,” she said.

“It is hard to comprehend any positives to this rule modification considering the hardship it will put on students and the added difficulty to universities already trying to make the best decisions for the health and benefit of their students.” The new rules also force international students to attend in-person classes during a pandemic, defying public health advisories on mitigating the spread of the virus.

“It’s such a sweeping change, and it came out of nowhere, at least for me,” said, Triet Ngo, a UNI senior from Hanoi, Vietnam.

For Ngo, wearing a mask in public is nothing new. His home city of more than 8 million is one of the world’s most polluted cities. Ngo remembers the MERS outbreak in his home country in 2012.

“I have been wearing masks for years,” he said. “But the outbreak scare would just last a few weeks, not months.”

Ngo said his family at home is concerned for him as “the situation is pretty much under control over there in Vietnam.”

“They’re probably not coming to the U.S. anytime soon, and I don’t think I can go back there any time soon,” he said, noting flights are heavily restricted from the U.S. “It’s hard to find a ticket home.”

The UNI Offices of Admissions and International Programs are coordinating with current and prospective students who may be affected by the federal action.

“UNI is deeply disappointed by the federal government’s announcement that it will discontinue an online course waiver for international students that prevents deportation as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Steve Schmadeke, UNI public relations manager. “This decision sends the wrong message about the value international students bring to the university community and has added to the stress and uncertainty many of our students face. In addition, we are in communication with Congress about our concerns with the impact this ruling will have on our students and university.

Urging reversal

Helen Harton, a UNI professor for more than 20 years, has worked with many international students. She has written members of Congress, urging them to reconsider.

“I’m very concerned about the new guidance from ICE that would require international students to immediately go home if the pandemic forces their school to go online mid-semester,” she wrote.Harton said the new rules are a problem for not only international students, but American students, universities and the U.S. economy. International students added $45 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018, according to the Commerce Department.

Harton also said attending classes online while living in another country can be nearly impossible due to varied time zones.

“Synchronous classes may meet at 3 a.m. Chinese time. Some programs professors use (Gmail, Zoom) are banned in some countries,” she said. “This ruling will make the U.S. less attractive for international students for years to come. That means lost tuition for universities, but it also means less innovation from their research and less rich classroom and extracurricular experiences for our American students.”Also, she said, graduate students with assistantships can’t be paid by the university if they are in another country, even if they could do the work remotely.

“Please use your influence to get this extremely short-sighted and cruel ruling changed. Pandemics call for flexibility,” Harton wrote in her letter to Congress.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Trump administration in federal court Wednesday, seeking to block a directive that would strip foreign college students of their visas if the courses they take this fall are entirely online, according to the New York Times.

For more information on UNI’s plans, go to https://isso.uni.edu/immigration-updates.

PHOTOS: Search for Mike Jensen