Community banks across the U.S. have been in the forefront of arranging critical Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding for local small businesses during the pandemic. One prominent Chicagoland example is The Leaders Bank, a community bank headquartered in Oak Brook, IL.
When the PPP's first phase launched April 3, Leaders moved rapidly to approve their first loan by the next day. As of April 30, the Bank has received SBA approval of 100% of its qualified applications through the first and second PPP phases. In addition, it has kept all loan applicants fully informed through the complete process. Although Leaders is not as large as the mega-banks, it has the capacity to fund loans up to the PPP maximum of $10 million per business, says Executive Vice-President Charles B. Hall.
As COVID-19 shuttered businesses and caused tens of millions to lose their jobs, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program.
Administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the program's first two phases earmarked up to $659 billion in loans for U.S. small businesses, independent contractors, sole proprietors and self-employed. Loans must go to payroll, mortgage, rent and utility costs, and are forgivable if firms use the proceeds to pay eligible expenses in accordance with the terms of the program.
The loans are processed through large and small financial institutions. Community banks have proven an effective arranger of loans for many of the companies applying.
CNBC's Jim Cramer noted community banks are doing a great job with the loans. "Community banks are well ahead" in the program, Cramer says.
The Leaders Bank's success in processing PPP applicants' loan requests stands as the direct result of its trademark personal touch, says President Bill Gleason. "We reached out to our customers," he reports. "We didn't just sit back and wait for them to call us. We asked them, 'Do you need us and how can we help?' That's the difference."
The speed of the PPP program's creation and roll-out, as well as its complexities, did not lend themselves to small businesses going it alone. "It's helpful when a community bank can lend its expertise to small businesses," Gleason says.
Thus far, The Leaders Bank has helped manufacturers, contractors, professional services firms, retailers, not-for-profits, and sole proprietors. The Bank has arranged PPP funding for companies as large as 193 employees and has made loans up to $6 million per business. “Whether or not a third round of SBA loans becomes available, The Leaders Bank stands ready to help small businesses gain funding to see them through COVID-19,” Hall says.
Located at 2001 York Road in Oak Brook, IL, The Leaders Bank is a premier provider of commercial banking services to private business owners, their families and other entrepreneurs. The Leaders Bank offers a full spectrum of traditional and customized banking services, Internet-based banking, and online bill payment. To contact The Leaders Bank, call (630) 572-5323 or visit www.leadersbank.com.