As originally featured in the Westchester and Fairfield County Business Journals - https://westfaironline.com/142141/david-demilia-banks-continue-to-aid-small-businesses-in-covid-era/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=david-demilia-banks-continue-to-aid-small-businesses-in-covid-era
The exceptional challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic have especially impacted small businesses, resulting in growing debt, heartbreaking layoffs, and in some cases business closures. Despite the development of successful vaccines, the Delta variant and threats of other variants continue to be concerns, resulting in a general uncertainty about how close the end of the pandemic truly is.
According to a recent study by Goldman Sachs, 75% of small-business owners were concerned about the impact of rising Covid-19 infection rates on their business, with only 31% saying they were “very confident” that they would be able to access adequate capital to stay afloat if necessary.
The unpredictability of the pandemic has made it difficult for small businesses to adapt. According to the Small Business Credit Survey, which was commissioned by the Federal Reserve, 95% of small businesses felt the impact of fluctuating restrictions across the country, whether that meant temporarily closing, reducing operations or closing altogether.
A year and a half later, many businesses are still working their way toward recovery. In order to navigate the pandemic’s temperamental highs and lows, many have leaned on community banks as a source of guidance and financial support.
Here are some of the ways that community banks have continued to provide lifelines to small businesses:
A Community Connection
It’s harder for larger financial institutions to evoke an authentic, we’re-in-this-together feeling. The power of being “neighbors” is at the heart of what local banks aim to provide — helping to ensure that the budding entrepreneur, the longstanding business owner, and the broader community are not only growing, but thriving.
Community banks can provide personalized customer service tailored to your business needs. That includes assisting small-business owners in taking advantage of bank and government support programs offered in response to the pandemic. Support can also come in the form of volunteerism of bank staff and financial support in the form of donations. When taken together, those efforts can be very impactful to helping the whole community.
Adapting to Financial Transitions
Banks do much more than just listen and give. It’s about coaching and counseling — especially when new and different challenges arise.
One specific challenge that small businesses are facing is the decrease in taking care of their banking face-to-face, as they once did prior to the pandemic. Learning how to utilize digital channels to accomplish their banking needs isn’t always simple, but local banks are dedicated to assisting customers with this transition, with many offering vital webinars on topics from PPP loan forgiveness to financial planning and everything in between.
Government Program Benefits
During the height of the pandemic, many banks offered support through the Small Business Administration (SBA), including Paycheck Protection loans and payment deferral programs. Tompkins Mahopac Bank, for instance, offered two rounds of PPP to businesses in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties, which resulted in 1,425 small business loans and 14,631 jobs protected in the region – just one example of many involving community banks working overtime, literally, to help small businesses.
We are living in difficult and uncertain times, but community banks are here for you to depend upon. No matter what challenges may arise for your small-business — or for you as a community member — local banks are ready and available to discuss, advise, and game plan. In a world that seems to change by the minute, local banks are a community partner, dedicated to both the financial and holistic health of the communities they serve.
David DeMilia, a lifelong Westchester County resident, is president of Tompkins Mahopac Bank (www.mahopacbank.com), a 92-year-old community bank, headquartered in Brewster, New York, and with a footprint in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties. He can be reached at 845-278-1011.