Citizens Bank has successfully assisted several hundred small business customers throughout the state of Arkansas navigate through the application process for the Paycheck Protection Program of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The PPP program is a major component of the new federal CARES Act, also known as the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.”
Early on, Citizens Bank recognized the potential for a severe economic downturn due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has forced some businesses to close and lay off employees in numerous communities where the bank operates.
An experienced Citizens Bank team quickly began formulating a plan to help customers withstand the looming crisis, and also put customers in a position to take full advantage of federal relief programs at the moment those programs were introduced.
“Citizens Bank began planning for the implementation of a federal aid program in March, when the terrible financial effects of COVID-19 on businesses and families were becoming apparent,” said Phil Baldwin, Chief Executive Officer. “Citizens Bank designated a special team just for this program, and we also assigned specialists to assist customers in each of our markets across the state.”
The Paycheck Protection Program provides loans to serve as incentives for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
When U.S. banks late last week received formal guidance on how businesses could apply for loans through the PPP program, Citizens Bank had become ready to help customers qualify for them and expedite the filing of the applications.
“Over the April 4th weekend, Citizens Bank assembled a team – working day and night – to get PPP loan applications approved through the SBA,” said Adam Mitchell, President and Chief Lending Officer. “Our mission is simple. We always put people first!”
Complementing the federal relief program is Citizens Bank’s “People First Financial Protection Program,” a comprehensive set of measures developed to help individuals, families and business customers reduce the negative financial burden caused by the the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assistance through the Citizens Bank People First Financial Protection Program addresses home loans, emergency cash loans, and personal loans, while charging no late fees on loans covered by the program.
“Citizens Bank truly appreciates the trust and confidence our customers have shown by working with us to receive assistance through the CARES Act and other programs from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department,” Baldwin said.
“We encourage all customers to reach out to us with questions about how we might be able to help them through their specific financial problems during this difficult time.”