The Other Responders: Bankers

For Small Businesses, Our Financial Institutions Have Provided A Reprieve

There have been many heroes disguised as essential workers who are deserving of our appreciation and celebration throughout the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, so many. 

For more than a year now, we have relied heavily upon our frontline healthcare workers, first responders, restaurant employees, teachers and more for a lifeline to normalcy. They have been there to feed us, to help us recover, to take our minds off the mundane nature of quarantine, to provide a shoulder to cry on and a respite from our weary selves; but, most of all, they have been here to keep us safe. 

If you own a business – of any size or ilk – and you qualified for PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) grant dollars or an EIDL loan, then you likely would add your personal banker to the list of suit-clad heroes. That’s right, your banker. 

Over the past year, our community banks stepped up HUGE during COVID-19, and they are doing it once again with the latest round of available PPP dollars now being doled out. 

Usually, banks take it on the chin from customers who don’t like fees or long lines or antiquated processes that seem arduous and unnecessary. Banking has also become more transactional than ever, hardly evoking a personal relationship. But in the past 12 months, the local banks in the Gables (and across the country) have saved thousands of jobs by loaning millions of dollars to our most needy businesses. They have done the heavy lifting, even as our economy slowed to a trickle.

Florida ranks in the top four of states that have had the most PPP loan applications processed and the most dollars deployed directly into the business community. Through it all, bankers have reconnected with their clients and rekindled the love that used to be personal banking. 

With every conversation I have these days with one of our financial institution members, including our Chamber’s own banking relationship at City National Bank, I am in awe of the role they played to help save our businesses. They saved companies, jobs, and lives this past year. That is not rhetoric, it is the honest truth. 

As you flip through the pages of this issue, you will learn about many of our local community banks, and the big dogs, too. Coral Gables is home to numerous professional service firms and the financial organizations that support them. It is our strength. We as a Chamber are blessed that, after real estate professionals, banking institutions are our largest cross section of engaged members. And boy, did we ever need their expertise in 2020. 

Turns out, after all the reforms and consolidation that took place following the Great Recession of 2008-2010, they were more than ready to step up and serve. So, here’s to our banks and banking professionals. Thank you for donning the red cape, flying high above the fray, and saving so many of our local businesses. We shall never forget what you did for all of us.