Local banks helped secure millions in PPP funds for area businesses

Parent Category: News Category: Cuba News Written by Rob Viehman Hits: 1010

    The four banks that operate in Cuba have secured loans for more than 300 businesses totaling $27 million under the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program thus far. All are preparing to reopen their lobbies and will continue to offer both financial and physical assistance to their customers as the state, county, and city work to reopen the economy.


    Each of the banks—Peoples Bank, First Community National Bank, Sullivan Bank, and Riverways Federal Credit Union—was contacted by Three Rivers Publishing last week and asked a series of questions about how they have responded to the pandemic and what plans are being made for the future. The following are their responses.

PEOPLES BANK
    Question: In addition to closing your lobby and doing most business at your drive-through, what other steps have you taken in response to the pandemic, including things you’ve done to protect employees and customers, allowing people to work at home, etc.?
    Answer: Our number-one priority has been the health and safety of our employees and our customers. We have 30 percent of our employees working from home and have split our critical back-office personnel amongst various home offices and three different branches. For our customer-facing staff, we have split everyone into two “teams.” One team works for a week while the other team is “on call” at home, then the teams “switch” the next week. This model allows us to service our customers while further limiting any risk to our employees. For our employees who are working in the branch, we all practice social distancing, good hygiene, and clean common surfaces frequently. We also temporarily modified our sick-leave policy to encourage employees who may be feeling sick to stay home rather than report to work.
    Question: Has the bank been able to keep everyone employed or have you had some temporary layoffs?
    Answer: Yes, we have retained all employees. Everyone is paid at their regular rate, even the employees who are at home “on call.” We have also guaranteed the payment of everyone’s quarterly bonus. As an essential business, our employees have really been working hard through difficult circumstances to make sure our customers receive the products and services they need and expect.
    Question: How was the bank’s experience with the PPP loan rollout, did it go well, were there problems?
    Answer: The rollout can be described as “chaotic,” but in fairness, they were trying to stand up a new $350 billion program in a week. The program began on Friday April 3. We started processing and approving loans on Saturday, April 4. Our lending team worked that entire weekend and non-stop over the next 10 days taking new applications, inputting data into the SBA system, approving loans, and ultimately closing and funding the loans. As you’ve read, an additional $320 billion was allocated by Congress so “Round 2” will start soon (it began April 27).
    Question: How many customers were able to secure PPP loans and approximately how much money was borrowed?
    Answer: 72 small businesses received PPP loans totaling over $5.3 million, or an average of $70,000 per borrower. Borrowers represented included manufacturers, restaurants, hotels, media, auto repair, campgrounds, construction, accounting, and retail. We are very proud to help direct these funds to help local small businesses and their employees.
    Question: What other SBA or emergency loans has the bank been able to assist local businesses with?
    Answer: Our loan department has been focused on the PPP loans and helping existing customers through our COVID-19 loan modification program (see information to follow). In addition, we created a $50,000 charitable fund to help with relief efforts in our markets. Funds are being directed to local not-for-profits to help meet basic needs: food, health care, shelter, utilities. Our first donation was to the Cuba Ministerial Alliance to purchase a large freezer to help store the quantity of food that is needed to meet increased demand. We also donated 1,000 N95 masks to Missouri Baptist Hospital in Sullivan.
    Question: Has the bank offered mortgage deferments for businesses and homeowners, can people still get those, and approximately how many businesses and homeowners have done that?
    Answer: Yes, we have a COVID-19 Loan Modification program to assist borrowers who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. It’s still available and to date, we’ve been able to assist over 100 borrowers.
    Question: Are there other programs available that your bank is offering that might be of assistance to local business owners and regular customers?
    Answer: We’ve really covered the main programs above–the PPP loans, our COVID-19 loan modification program, and our new charitable fund to assist with relief efforts. In addition, we are doing some smaller things like gift card giveaways to support local restaurants and small businesses. We’ll likely rollout more things like this in the coming weeks.
    Question: With a planned reopening of most businesses for May 4, has the bank started planning for how it may reopen its lobbies and what restrictions might be in place?
    Answer: We are in the early stages of that planning so not a lot of detail yet. We are currently working with a local vendor to install plastic shields in our branches similar to what you see in other retail establishments. All the steps will be well thought out, prioritize the health and safety of our employees and customers, and be based on guidance from the CDC and other medical groups. In the meantime, customers will continue to access our services through the drive-through, phone, and our online/mobile technology. Honestly, there is nothing a customer can’t do given our current operating model. It has worked really well.
    Question: Will people be allowed to wear masks in the bank lobbies when they reopen?
    Answer: Yes.
    Question: Is there anything else you think the public should know about the banks’ operations during the pandemic and into the future?
    Answer: Our bank has been in the community for nearly 120 years so as we like to say, this is actually the second pandemic Peoples Bank has been through, following the Spanish Flu of 1918. Right now, we are just focused on helping our customers and others in the community get through this difficult time. Our bank is built on a very strong foundation and we want to be a resource to our customers and the community. If we can help in any capacity, people should not hesitate to call.

FIRST COMMUNITY NATIONAL BANK
    Question: In addition to closing your lobby and doing most business at your drive-through, what other steps have you taken in response to the pandemic, including things you’ve done to protect employees and customers, allowing people to work at home, etc.?
    Answer: We have instituted additional cleaning and disinfecting measures throughout our bank and insurance locations, emphasizing the importance of hand washing, adding hand sanitizer at all entrances and teller stations, and continuously disinfecting workstations. We have implemented both work from home and a rotation schedule for staff which helps to limit exposure for our most vulnerable front-line employees while keeping employees fully employed. Employees have been asked to continually monitor their health daily and keep a log to ensure only healthy employees are in contact with customers and other employees. Video and tele-conferencing has been implemented to reduce travel and group contact. We have emphasized remote capabilities for customers to access their accounts through online and mobile banking and implemented electronic signature capabilities to allow customers to sign documents electronically.
    Question: Has the bank been able to keep everyone employed or have you had some temporary layoffs?
    Answer: From the onset of the pandemic, the FCNB Board of Directors made the determination to keep all team members employed, including continued pay in the event employees are required to stay at home, whether they are rotating shifts or caring for a child or family member because care facilities are closed.
    Question: How was the bank’s experience with the PPP loan rollout, did it go well, were there problems?
    Answer: Our experience with the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program has gone well. Our lending team worked numerous hours to accept and process over 100 applications totaling over $9 million in funding requests.
    Question: How many customers were able to secure PPP loans and approximately how much money was borrowed?
    Answer: To date, we have closed over 80 loans totaling over $6 million in funding to small businesses. We have several applications that will be submitted in the second round of funding, as well as continuing to accept applications for PPP loans.
    Question: What other SBA or emergency loans has the bank been able to assist local businesses with?
    Answer: We have been able to assist customers through SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which is funded directly by the SBA. In addition, for most categories of SBA loans, the next six months’ principal and interest payment are being made by the SBA.
    Question: Has the bank offered mortgage deferments for businesses and homeowners, can people still get those, and approximately how many businesses and homeowners have done that?
    Answer: In anticipation of the crisis that was formulating, early on the FCNB Board of Directors approved up to 90 deferrals on loans for borrowers affected by the economic standstill. Yes, customers can continue to request payment deferrals.
    Question: Are there other programs available that your bank is offering that might be of assistance to local business owners and regular customers?
    Answer: During the pandemic, we are continuing to lend money in the community, making dreams possible and keeping the economy moving. We are actively accepting applications for home purchases, auto loans, business expansion, agricultural operations and more. For our deposit customers, we have temporarily waived the debit card requirement for our Real Life Interest and Cash Back checking accounts, allow customers to continue to earn rewards and avoid fees. Customers that need assistance due to the effects of the pandemic are encouraged to contact their personal banker or loan officer for assistance.
    Question: With a planned reopening of most businesses for May 4, has the bank started planning for how it may reopen its lobbies and what restrictions might be in place?
    Answer: The health and safety of our community, customers and employees will always be our top priority. We are currently reviewing measures and recommendations that promote the safety of our customers and staff, while serving our community and businesses the best way possible.
    Question: Will people be allowed to wear masks in the bank lobbies when they reopen?
    Answer: Yes, customers will be allowed to wear masks and any other protective equipment in the bank lobbies when we reopen.
    Question: Is there anything else you think the public should know about the banks’ operations during the pandemic and into the future?
    Answer: Since 1906, FCNB has been a vital part of our community and we will continue to support our customers and businesses through every situation in life.

SULLIVAN BANK
    Question: In addition to closing your lobby and doing most business at your drive-through, what other steps have you taken in response to the pandemic, including things you’ve done to protect employees and customers, allowing people to work at home, etc.?
    Answer: At Sullivan Bank, we immediately contacted vendors to assure supply chain. Of course, we ordered personal protection equipment, such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and medical-grade cleaning wipes. We disseminated several times the CDC recommended for protection measures, such as hand washing and not touching your face. We split our staff into two teams, with one working inside the building for two weeks and one working at home or on-call to work. Even before the team split, high-risk employees were sent to work from home.
    Question: Has the bank been able to keep everyone employed or have you had some temporary layoffs?
    Answer: We are pleased to have been able to keep all employees during this time of escalating unemployment.
    Question: How was the bank’s experience with the PPP loan rollout, did it go well, were there problems?
    Answer: Sullivan Bank was already an SBA Lender, so that helped to speed the process for us. There are always some challenges to overcome, but our staff really stepped up to the plate for the customers this time.
    Question: How many customers were able to secure PPP loans and approximately how much money was borrowed?
    Answer: We are pleased to have served 160 customers with over $15 million in SBA PPP loans and there are more in the pipeline.
    Question: What other SBA or emergency loans has the bank been able to assist local businesses with?
    Answer: Most of our businesses which sometimes experience fluctuating market times have established emergency lines of credit which they can use during a crisis such as we are experiencing now. By planning ahead, there was no delay in their ability to obtain funds quickly.
    Question: Has the bank offered mortgage deferments for businesses and homeowners, can people still get those, and approximately how many businesses and homeowners have done that?
    Answer: At Sullivan Bank, we have done well over 100 interest extensions and a couple dozen loans have been modified to assist borrowers during their time of need.
    Question: Are there other programs available that your bank is offering that might be of assistance to local business owners and regular customers?
    Answer: Yes. We have thousands of customers who have account types that require a certain number of debits per month in order to get a higher interest rate on that account. We have waived that requirement for this crisis statement cycle. This will assure that as long as they meet the other requirements, they are not forced to leave their homes to obtain transactions. We also extended the maturity date on some certificates of deposit so that clients didn’t have to venture out during this worst time of the virus.
    Question: With a planned reopening of most businesses for May 4, has the bank started planning for how it may reopen its lobbies and what restrictions might be in place?
    Answer: Yes, our Pandemic Team and executive management have met to discuss when to reopen the lobbies, when to bring staff all back inside the buildings and the safety precautions that will be needed to protect customers and employees when the lobbies are back open. At this time, no firm decisions have been made.
    Question: Will people be allowed to wear masks in the bank lobbies when they reopen?
    Answer: Yes, employees and customers will be allowed masks. Since there are customer identification regulations in place for bankers, banking associations are recommending that the bank request a customer to remove objects on their head (masks, sunglasses, hats, etc.) as they enter the building so that security equipment captures photos and then don the item again before approaching employees. We will be establishing our own procedures when the time comes to reopen the lobbies.
    Question: Is there anything else you think the public should know about the bank’s operations during the pandemic and into the future?
    Answer: Yes, thank you for asking. First, the banking system is strong and designed to weather intense storms like this pandemic we are experiencing. The FDIC is in place to assure that no depositor loses money, and since the establishment of the FDIC in 1933, no depositor has lost a penny. Second, the public needs to be on guard. There have already been cases recorded, so the banking community in general is warning people to protect your personal and financial information. Understand that some people may take advantage of COVID-19 by using fraudulent websites, phone calls, emails, and text messages claiming to offer “help” but may be trying to trick people into providing Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and other valuable details. Do not divulge your bank or credit card numbers or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the conversation with the other party and you know that it is a reputable organization. In addition, you should be cautious about online solicitations. Be on guard against imposters who contact you claiming to be government employees or volunteers and who ask for personal financial information or money. Reject offers to cash a check for someone in exchange for a fee, even if the bank makes the funds available to you right away, as it may later turn out that the check was fraudulent. We are also warning against clicking on unknown emails or links within emails.

RIVERWAYS FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
    Question: In addition to closing your lobby and doing most business at your drive-through, what other steps have you taken in response to the pandemic, including things you’ve done to protect employees and customers, allowing people to work at home, etc.?
    Answer: The unique technology at all Riverways video drive throughs are designed to protect members and employees with all transactions which take place without handling unclean tubes or passing cash, checks, etc. directly between the member and employee. In addition to this, Riverways has many fully functional online and advanced text features which have allowed members to conduct their banking needs from home or mobile device along with our video teller system.
    Question: Has the bank been able to keep everyone employed or have you had some temporary layoffs?
    Answer: Yes, all employees have been retained on a full work schedule to serve the member/owners.
    Question: How was the bank’s experience with the PPP loan rollout, did it go well, were there problems?
    Answer: Initially there was a significant lack of information from SBA. Once clear guidelines and procedures were rolled out by SBA the process was very smooth.
    Question: How many customers were able to secure PPP loans and approximately how much money was borrowed?
    Answer: Many local businesses were able to secure emergency PPP funds in the first round with loans totaling approximately $700,000. We look forward to helping more of our local businesses in the next round of funding.
    Question: What other SBA or emergency loans has the bank been able to assist local businesses with?
    Answer: The success of each one of RFCU’s members is vital to the communities we serve. In addition to the SBA program, RFCU has been able to work with many local farmers who suffered a significant decline in market value of calves in the heart of the selling season by delaying payments until the market rebounds. We have also offered business payment deferments for no cost, loan refinances, and no-cost skip payments for auto loans.
    Question: Has the bank offered mortgage deferments for businesses and homeowners, can people still get those, and approximately how many businesses and homeowners have done that?
    Answer: Yes, Riverways is proud to have helped many homeowners with payment deferments through this challenging time. Yes, we know the financial ramifications of this will last well into the future so we are here to help those in any financial need.
    Question: Are there other programs available that your bank is offering that might be of assistance to local business owners and regular customers?
    Answer: Riverways has offered its members, at no cost, the ability to skip their auto payment for a month. This no-cost skip payment program has already freed up over $50,000 in critical funds for our members to survive this challenging time.
    Question: With a planned reopening of most businesses for May 4, has the bank started planning for how it may reopen its lobbies and what restrictions might be in place?
    Answer: Yes, there is a plan in place to protect the member/owners and employees. On May 4, RFCU will be open and ready to serve.
    Question: Will people be allowed to wear masks in the bank lobbies when they reopen?
    Answer: Yes however, upon entering the facility, the member will be required to lower the mask for a few seconds to allow the employees to accurately identify the member.
    Question: Is there anything else you think the public should know about the banks’ operations during the pandemic and into the future?
    Answer: Our normal drive through hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday will resume beginning May 4. All online, text, and video services will continue after quarantine is lifted. We thank all of the local essential employees who worked through the quarantine time to provide critical services.