Rely on Us

Chris Carver, Vice President

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, there are 396,432 small businesses in Alabama. They employ 47.2% of the private workforce. High employment means that the workers’ wages can be spent on goods being produced–making our economies strong. They also help large businesses thrive by providing them with components, services, and product distribution.

Due to the pandemic, most small businesses have faced unprecedented challenges. Limited operations and decreased demand have made it difficult to manage payroll and operational expenses. To help lessen economic impacts, President Trump signed the CARES Act into law. It contained urgently needed relief for American workers and small businesses.

The act established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), forgivable loans designed to help small businesses pay their employees and cover overhead costs. While the PPP was administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the nation’s financial institutions were responsible for processing and funding the loans.

Despite very little direction from the SBA, River Bank & Trust quickly discerned the loan process and started taking applications. Our culture of one-on-one, relationship-based banking allowed us to be quick, flexible, and proactive for our small business customers. We provided them with financial guidance—not only regarding the PPP but also how the economic climate might affect the future.

As applications rushed in, our team worked late into nights and over weekends to ensure funding was received by those who needed it most. While it was stressful and challenging at times, we were energized knowing that we were doing important work. As we worked, something interesting happened. Business owners we hadn’t heard from before began reaching out to us for PPP assistance—either they couldn’t get help from their existing financial institutions or they had been referred to us by existing customers. Whether that meant offering financial advice or helping secure PPP loans, we were determined to help them. Our open arms approach allowed us to be here for small businesses when it mattered most. To date, River Bank & Trust has helped secure over 2,000 PPP loans providing nearly $162 million worth of aid to our friends and neighbors.

With advancements in digital technology, banking has become less personal. Conveniences like online banking, mobile applications, and direct deposit have changed the way people interact with their financial institutions. Visits to the bank are few and far between. As long as the technology is working, most customers are satisfied with their banking experience. While River Bank & Trust offers a wide array of digital technologies, we also offer something that other financial institutions have gotten away from—personal relationships. And if the PPP experience teaches us anything, it’s that personal banking relationships still matter—especially in times of crisis.