When the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Michigan and emergency orders shut down the state in mid-March 2020, most people believed we’d be back to normal after a month or two. Now a full year in, and we are all continuing to face questions and learning to navigate ourselves and our communities through the continuing crisis. Consumers Credit Union, as a leading financial institution in the region, has stayed at the forefront of these efforts.
Consumers was one of the first credit unions in the state to participate in the federal Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Launched in April 2020, the PPP is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll during the pandemic. The SBA will forgive these loans if certain criteria are met, such as maintaining employee and compensation levels and spending the proceeds on eligible expenses such as payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
First Round of PPP Relief
After only a single email to business members on April 3, 2020, over 200 businesses applied through Consumers on the first day funding was available. With Consumers’ retail offices closed to meet the state government’s initial Stay Safe, Stay Home order, employees were mobilized remotely to process these loans as quickly as possible. Signatures were collected electronically, and email and cell phone numbers were made available to applicants while staff worked around the clock.
The Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) recommended Consumers as a trusted resource to its members and word spread quickly among the business community of who was participating and who was easy to work with. With the guidelines and requirements shifting constantly, Consumers built dedicated web pages to post the most up-to-date loan and forgiveness information, which proved to be a vital resource to businesses trying to understand these complicated federal loans.
Lending Continues Into 2021
In 2020, Consumers loaned over $47 million through 764 loans to local businesses in Southwest Michigan through the PPP. In the first three months of 2021, as the pandemic and its effects stretch into its second year, Consumers successfully processed an additional 303 loans for another $22,536,959.62 to businesses and their employees in the region.
“Support of our businesses doesn’t stop with a business loan,” said Kit Snyder, Consumers CEO and president. “Our business team partners with marketing who partners with HR and other departments to offer wholistic services to our members, which is a true showcase of our servant leadership and the great organizations we serve.”
Support Beyond the Financial
Beyond successfully supporting a PPP loan program, Consumers partnered with local businesses and community leaders to run several well-received webinar series on everything from managing a remote workforce to community mental health. Consumers also shared its own return-to-work practices with others through the business partner Return to Work page on its website, which includes example signage, return to work plans, financial wellness information and more.
Consumers has also expanded and digitized their financial wellness program for employers. The Consumers @Work program brings both in-person and virtual financial seminars and counseling, informational materials, account setup and more to employees. The @Work program serves over 200 employers, providing their employees with the customized products, services, and resources they need for long-term financial wellness.
Those with business banking questions should contact Consumers’ business development managers or call 800-991-2221. As the state begins to see tentative signs of recovery, Consumers’ 22 offices have fully reopened their lobbies to serve members and the business community.
Consumers Credit Union is Federally insured by NCUA.