Op-ed: To help Main Street businesses, look to Main Street banks

DALLAS, TX — Vista Bank CEO, John D. Steinmetz, authored the following op-ed on CNBC.com about community banks coming through for small businesses in this PPP SBA relief window:

PUBLISHED THU, APR 16 20209:07 AM EDT

KEY POINTS

  • Local community banks were among the most prepared and willing to step up during these unprecedented times, releasing loans far earlier than many of their Wall Street counterparts.
  • Working more like a start-up than an established company, community banks bring a sense of urgency that benefits entrepreneurs.

Community banks don’t have “fortress balance sheets” or global call centers, but they do have long-time relationships in their communities.

Main Street

A normally busy Main Street is deserted as the small businesses that line the business district remain closed after the governor instituted a shelter-in-place order in an attempt to curtail the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 24, 2020 in Rockton, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

During our bank’s 108-year history, we’ve weathered the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, two World Wars, the September 11th attacks, and the Great Recession. There have been many sleepless nights over the decades, but few were as monumental as the night of April 3. On that day, we processed a government-backed loan at 3:30 AM.

We’ve been working around the clock ever since the CARES Act was signed into law, and we’re not alone. Fellow community banks across the country are pulling late nights as well, processing as many Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program loans as we can to keep our friends and neighbors off the unemployment line. For our part, we’ve funded loans as small as $1,400 and as big as $7.8 million to give businesses that were thriving just four short weeks ago a fighting chance.​

Through no fault of their own, small businesses find themselves in uncertain times. Those looking to secure an SBA PPP or Economic Injury Disaster Loan understandably have lots of questions. Does my company qualify? Why is my bank not participating? Will there be enough money for my business? While the government took some admirable steps in getting funds ready for small businesses, it’s the banks that are learning the program, adapting their processes and answering those questions in real time. 

Click here to read the full op-ed.

VistaBank