By Erin Schlegel
Small and mid-sized businesses in Snohomish County are vital to our local economy. As we have seen firsthand, the disruption to these businesses caused by the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant adverse impact on the community. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans offer a source of financial support for business owners and their employees.
For community bankers, processing these loans is a way to demonstrate our steadfast commitment to the community. During the first round of the program, as our team was fulfilling loan applications day in and day out, over weekends and holidays, our prevailing motivation was, “by finalizing this loan, how many paychecks will it secure for employees in our community, and how many businesses will we help survive?”
Take, for example, one of our customers, a dental office with eight full-time employees. Without the ability to see patients and provide services, new billings ceased abruptly, and employees were left without work. Another customer, a popular craft brewer with over 20 employees, experienced a swift decline in taproom sales after social distancing requirements early in the pandemic led to restrictions on indoor gatherings. In both cases, Peoples Bank provided the business owners with PPP funding, which aided directly in their ability to keep their entire staff on the payroll as they adapted to the changes in business conditions.
As these examples show, community banks are honored to meet the opportunity to do all they can to secure available capital on behalf of their customers and drive it into the community. Peoples Bank is extremely proud to have supported more than 1,800 Washington-based businesses with PPP financing this past year.
Many small businesses that took advantage of the PPP program last year will need additional financial support heading into 2021 and may be eligible to apply for funding in the next round of this program. Over the past several months, we have invested significant resources into technology and capabilities to facilitate the PPP application and forgiveness processes. Our new automated system allows us to handle and process PPP loans much more efficiently and get the funds into the economy much more quickly. It also allows us to go beyond our existing customer base to help other local businesses and their employees.
As with any new lending program, there is sure to be a degree of confusion and stress. Community banks are ideally positioned to help in these situations because they offer customers direct access to a local banker. If you have a question or concern, all you need to do is pick up the phone and speak with your lender directly. That kind of human interaction and accountability is a huge advantage to working with a community bank.
Peoples Bank has been serving the community for 100 years and has weathered various ups and downs during this time. We have a vested interest in the success of the Snohomish County community, and we will continue to do all we can to support the financial needs of local business owners. If you are in need of a PPP loan and would like to benefit from the resources, expertise, and commitment of a community bank, I hope you’ll give us a call.
Based at the Peoples Bank Edmonds Office, Erin Schlegel is a Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Officer with the Snohomish County lending team. To learn more about PPP loan eligibility and to make an appointment with a local lender, please visit www.peoplesbank-wa.com/sba-paycheck-protection/.