In this time of crisis, when small businesses desperately seek funding to keep their doors open and employees on payroll, credit unions and community banks like yours stepped up among the first institutions to process loan applications. From day one, when the SBA opened their loan window, you immediately set out to provide for struggling small business customers.
A story I heard that impacted me greatly involved a community bank and its customer, the owner of a local restaurant, who urgently sought to apply for a Paycheck Protection Plan loan. “When that individual came in and looked for this particular loan, it meant something very different than getting an application on the internet,” said the bank’s CEO. “This is when you need someone to see you as an individual, so you get prioritized.”
In another part of the country, the owner of a local fitness studio was forced to close her doors and was hoping the PPP would enable her to keep her staff on payroll. “It’s just confusing, the owner said. “You look on TV and they say there is so much help for small businesses. But in practicality… I can’t even find a bank I’m affiliated with that will let me fill out an application.” Her story is far from unique.
The chaotic rollout of the PPP left small businesses worried, frustrated and confused. Many were denied the opportunity to even apply through large lenders that either hit their loan allocation threshold too quickly or only accepted applications from existing customers. Historically, experts state that large banks prioritize similarly large companies with hundreds of employees, pushing those with a smaller (often more highly valued) workforce to the back of the line.
Those big banks, seemingly indifferent to small businesses, encumber them with red tape the servant hearts that are the foundations of credit unions and community banks are with their neighbors. Helping local businesses succeed is part of your mission – not only in good times but, even more so, in times of great need.
In a sea of confusion, credit unions and community banks are making a difference by going in with strong financial footing and taking steps to protect your customers early. Unlike big banks, you see PPP as an opportunity to grow your small business lending practices and strengthen local economies while assisting your neighbors when they need you the most.
To each and every one of you on the front lines, working tirelessly to be present for your customers while most of the country is sheltered in their homes, we say “thank you.” We are proud to be your partner and friend and if we can help you in any way, please reach out. We are here for you – today and every day.