Around-the-Clock PPP Efforts Help 3,700 Businesses
Like banks across the country, Northwest Bank (NWBI), headquartered in Warren, Pennsylvania, has been working overtime to help small businesses curb the impact of today’s coronavirus pandemic.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. They employ our families and neighbors, provide valuable goods and services and dedicate their time and money to local organizations. As a community bank, we share these values—and we’re committed to doing everything we can to not only help them through this period of uncertainty, but thrive afterward,” said Kirk Jacobson, Northwest’s SVP of Small Business Banking.
As soon as the Small Business Administration (SBA) released guidance to banks on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Northwest teams assembled to analyze the details and develop an open, client-friendly approach to the application process, no matter a business’s industry or size.
“Who’s to say that one business is more deserving than another? We wanted every one of our clients to know they’re a priority. That’s why we launched a number of ways to connect with clients and work with them to collect the necessary application information.” said Mark Reitzes, Northwest’s Head of Commercial Banking.
Clients applying through Northwest could either connect one-on-one with a business banker, who helped gather the information required by the SBA, or submit their loan package through Northwest’s online application portal.
“As soon as our portal opened, our business bankers proactively reached out to our clients to let them know we were ready to take applications. We provided checklists, a step-by-step video and FAQs to ensure they fully-understood the relief program and requirements. We received applications from businesses of all sizes and industries across our entire four-state footprint,” Reitzes said.
Despite Northwest’s efforts, nationwide demand was much greater than expected. Funds were drained in just a few days after launch and the SBA stopped accepting applications, leaving many businesses empty-handed with few answers.
While many banks followed the SBA’s lead and stopped taking applications between the first and second round of government funding, Northwest took a different approach.
“We wanted our clients to acquire the relief they deserved and we were hopeful that the PPP would be funded for a second round. As Congress deliberated, we didn’t stop. Our teams worked around-the-clock to help clients gather and prepare application information for submission. Because of our approach, we were ready to submit applications when the SBA’s loan portal reopened.
Northwest’s hard work and determination paid off. According to Reitzes, nearly 100% of the PPP loan applications that Northwest received were approved by the SBA—a total of 3,700 loans that will provide more than $425 million worth of relief.
Northwest’s efforts served employers of all sizes and across a wide span of industries including manufacturing, restaurants, religious organizations, professional services, beauty salons and contractors, and helps protect more than 35,000 employees.
And these efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. According to Thomas Rippon, president and operating manager of Rippon Associates, LLC of Mifflinburg, PA, his company is maintaining employment at close-to-normal levels and is able to provide hazard pay to those who continue to work through the pandemic—all thanks to Northwest. Ripon said, “The folks at Northwest Bank, particularly those who handle our accounts, are to be super-commended.”
Northwest’s success can be attributed to teamwork, technology and the resolve of its lending and operations teams. “Put simply, we care about our clients,” commented Reitzes. “These are unprecedented times – I am extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish.”
Headquartered in Warren, Pennsylvania, Northwest Bancshares, Inc. is the holding company of Northwest Bank. Founded in 1896, Northwest Bank is a full-service financial institution offering a complete line of business and personal banking products, employee benefits and wealth management services, as well as the fulfillment of business and personal insurance needs. Northwest operates 206 full-service community banking offices and eight free standing drive-through facilities in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Indiana. Northwest Bancshares, Inc.’s common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market (“NWBI”). Additional information regarding Northwest Bancshares, Inc. and Northwest Bank can be accessed online at northwest.com.