OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE MONTANA INDEPENDENT BANKERS ASSOCIATION

Pub. 9 2021 Issue 3

Working-Together-to-Serve-Montana-Small-Businesses

Working Together to Serve Montana Small Businesses

MIB Community Banker
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In April 2020, the federal government established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a new $349 billion program with the mission to keep people on payroll, keep businesses in business, and help the economy recover as quickly as possible. Within hours of the program announcement, Montana lenders were filling my teams’ inboxes for requests for information, eager to do their part in serving our state’s small business community.

That commitment has never stopped, and the Montana lender community’s steadfast support of Small Business Administration (SBA) programs has been unrelenting. Amid program modifications and the challenges of the pandemic, our state’s banks, credit unions, and financial institutions have remained focused and steady, stepping up to work long hours to connect small businesses with much-needed capital.

In the Montana District Office, we place a significant emphasis on cultivating and sustaining relationships with lenders across the state. The SBA has a range of incredible programs, but we rely on the partnership of lenders to make them a reality for small businesses. This is more important for our state than many others as a majority of Montana is classified as rural; many counties are deemed frontier counties. It is imperative for the SBA to intentionally work with lenders to ensure businesses in these most sparsely populated communities have equal access to SBA funding. We couldn’t do it on our own.

Take Garrett Scott and Yellowstone Bank, for example. For more than a decade, Garrett has worked closely with Tom White and Rena Carlson, Lender Relationship Specialists in the Montana SBA Office. Over the years, they have developed a rapport where they bounce ideas off each other and shoot texts back and forth for quick information access. When the pandemic began stretching resources for lenders, businesses, and even our office, this partnership was key, and they relied on each other more than ever as rules changed and programs evolved. Garrett said the trust and availability of the SBA was a key factor that enabled the bank to process nearly 1,500 loans, amounting to approximately $114 million.

We could brag on our lenders all day long. In Montana alone, the work between SBA and local lenders led to over $2.6 billion in aid with over 47,000 small businesses loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. For many, these funds were the factor that allowed them to keep their doors open, preserving jobs for thousands of workers. The new Restaurant Revitalization Fund also extended assistance to Montana diners, caterers, bakeries, bars, and eateries that experienced significant revenue loss because of the pandemic. Economic Injury Disaster Loans will continue helping entrepreneurs, including agriculture businesses and nonprofit organizations, with cash flow challenges until the program closes December 31. None of this would have been possible without the tireless work of our lender community.

I could not be more sincere in my appreciation for the individuals who partner with the SBA to provide resources for small businesses, and we are always looking to find more lenders willing to help us get SBA dollars into the hands of small business owners. Scott Garrett said it best: “Our relationship with the SBA is crucial to the community around us. There are so many customers we wouldn’t be able to serve without the assistance of the SBA. They’re an incredible tool for getting a deal done and providing an option for small businesses that may need an extra leg up. Learning about these programs enables us to get into the weeds so our customers don’t have to.”

At the SBA, we will always work to ensure our lending programs are mutually beneficial for lenders and business owners. SBA loan programs are guaranteed, helping mitigate financial risk while offering borrowers more flexible terms. The programs also help increase customer loyalty and retention with the option of alternative financing when traditional avenues are not available. Most importantly, SBA loans can help communities grow and thrive.

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and each community in Big Sky Country. By investing in local businesses, lenders help create jobs that funnel money into schools, roads, and the community’s future.

Our SBA Montana Office is absolutely committed to partnering with you to best serve our state’s small businesses. To learn more about becoming an SBA lender or to connect with a member of our team, visit sba.gov or call the Montana District Office at 406.441.1081.

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