Fidelity Bank and Trust of Oelwein reopened its lobby on Monday, June 8 and continues to offer paycheck protection loans in the second round of federal program funding.
“We have been closed, I think, for 73 straight days,” said Kent Nelson, market president of Oelwein Fidelity, who added that they were anxiously awaiting the hall’s reopening.
“It’s interesting that during this eight to ten week period people tend to adjust to new environments, and I think our staff and clients have adapted very well to doing business. through electronic banking, ”said Nelson, listing mobile banking, Internet banking and the rise in power.
“Interactions with clients, particularly on the loan side and a bit on the deposit side as well – where we have clients who renew certificates of deposit or who do file maintenance with a checking account or a savings account – we did a lot of that over the phone, scan and email documents to sign (now electronically) and they could scan them to us and send them back to us via email or fax, and we have used those doing business as much as possible.
“We have now implemented electronic signatures for loan and deposit documents. I don’t know how quickly we would have pushed back this envelope without the pandemic.
“During the time that our halls were closed, we met with customers and suppliers by appointment, and during that time, we had them fill out and sign a questionnaire, asking them if they had been sick, that kind of thing. things.”
Internally, the monthly regional in-person loan meeting was switched to teleconference and further communications were made by phone or email.
“Almost 300 people across the company, we had no cases of COVID, we all worked every day and we hit wood, I think (it’s) a combination of luck and good habits that we made these changes to the extent that disinfection as well as social distancing also helped in this.
“We have a lender who, due to extenuating circumstances with the daycare, chose to work from home, and we’ve responded to that request, and we’ve had a few people within the business who have done that as well.” said Nelson.
Staff continue to remain active in the community.
“Nothing has really changed when it comes to community support with our volunteer hours with many local agencies and nonprofits we have continued to serve in these roles.”
With the reopening, some changes have been made.
“When we reopened the lobby, we tried to make it less accommodating for customers to stay for a long time,” Nelson said.
The chairs in the waiting room were spaced out and the free drinks removed. Customer traffic was reduced to one door for easier surveillance and the use of the washroom was restricted to staff.
“We have put up signage and, like many businesses we have asked, if you have been ill or are in quarantine, please do not visit during this time.”
The experience was technologically educational.
“I think it opened our eyes and allowed us to use our electronic business methods,” said Nelson. “I think the people who were maybe on the fence about electronic banking, some of these people got more comfortable with it.
“Between that and the PPP loans, we’ve been very busy. I won’t say that our activity was not interrupted, but it was quite close to the normal course of business, with obviously some adjustments.
SMALL BUSINESS LOANS
One of the products offered by Fidelity and many other community banks through the Federal Small Business Administration is the Payment Protection Program.
“We’ve processed about 65 to 70 of these loans right here at the Oelwein office,” Nelson said. “Company-wide, across our 33 sites (including the recent acquisition of State Bank in New Hampton), we have processed close to 1,000 of these loans. Locally these 65-70 loans totaled around $ 3.5 million, then company-wide I think we were close to the $ 50 million mark in terms of the total dollars we have treated.
The second round of PPP funding began on April 27.
This year’s funds came in response as businesses began to struggle during shutdowns at various levels to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“They’re set up as a loan to begin with, and if a certain percentage of those dollars is used for payroll and a few other qualifying expenses during that period, then the loan is canceled,” Nelson said.
“This is a good program, it has helped stimulate and keep a lot of local businesses and their employees active during this time of the pandemic,” he added.
“There have been all types of businesses that have qualified for these PPP loans, but just from a business disruption perspective as far as revenue is concerned, I would say these hotel businesses have been hit harder than many others.”