Bank of Belleville, and its network of community banks, processed more than $70 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans on behalf of small businesses throughout the area.
Bank of Belleville Chief Lending Officer, Wade Weitlauf, said over the last 12 months since PPP loan opportunities were created to help small businesses weather the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the bank has completed nearly 650 loans, more than $70 million for local businesses across the Metro East.
“We felt it was our obligation to the business community at large to do this for them,” said Weitlauf. “That’s why we helped as many as we could – even if they didn’t bank with us. It was a decision we made as a company, and it meant many team members, without hesitation, were working nights and weekends to make sure loans were processed as quickly as possible because this was personal to each client. We wanted to be sure everyone got the help they needed. So many folks were incredibly thankful that we helped them, especially when others would not or could not.”
As an SBA Preferred Lender, Bank of Belleville, and all of its divisional banks, Bank of Madison County, Bank of Clinton County and Bank of Monroe County, employ team members with specialized expertise in small-business lending who were able to help business owners throughout the four-county region.
Weitlauf said his team became so proficient at submitting PPP loans that it streamlined the process from weeks down to days.
“With the first round of PPP loans, the money ran out in 13 days, creating a kind of frenzy and stress for so many local business owners, especially the ones who initially applied for these loans with no response or guidance from other lending institutions,” said Weitlauf. “I think our responsiveness to people is why so many turned to us. They just needed someone to communicate with them. It’s very gratifying for us to know that we helped local businesses survive this past year.”
A second round of PPP funding was just completed on May 31.
Due to additional Cares Act Legislation, The Small Bankers Association (SBA) has also announced enhancements to the SBA 7(a) lending program through Sept. 30 — waiving fees thereby making these loans substantially more attractive. Weitlauf said these loans, which his team specializes in, can be used for a variety of business purposes including large equipment purchases, business acquisitions or expansions, permanent working capital or the purchase of real estate.
PHOTO: Bank of Belleville representatives, from left, Wade Weitlauf, Kevin Pesko, Ron Stephens, Karl Abert, Jennifer Warren.