Eugene’s Summit Bank helps local businesses with critical loans

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When the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) opened, Summit Bank was ready.

The bank’s SBA team members and leadership team prepared their clients and reviewed applications ahead of time, submitting them in the wee hours of April 3, at the first moments they could. By the time Summit Bank finished processing the loans, they approved more than 440 applications totaling $114 million for businesses and nonprofits in Eugene and throughout Oregon.

Their clients include those in industries as varied as construction, food and beverage, nonprofit, health care, arts and entertainment, retail, manufacturing, and professional and technical services.

“Our team arguably got our applications in faster than a more regional or a national bank that might have tried to digitize their processes,” said Jenny Bennett, senior vice president of business development and marketing for Summit Bank. “Having an SBA Division gives us valuable insights. Plus, we’re an independent  and nimble enough group to really be able to work quickly.”

Summit Bank’s Ashley Horner led the team that worked until 2 a.m. on many nights processing loans as the bank secured PPP money for their clients.

“It was quite a heavy lift. The amount of money that we pushed out into the community in three weeks exceeds what we traditionally lend as an institution in one calendar year,” said Horner, who is the bank’s vice president/SBA administrator. “It’s pretty phenomenal what we were able to tilt up in such short order.”

Serving clients through offices in Eugene, Central Oregon, Portland

Summit staff put a priority on calling back and answering client questions at a time when the questions were plentiful. In some cases, other banks were not as quick to respond.

“I think that really sets us apart. We became people’s advisors and confidantes throughout this process,” Horner said.

Eugene business Avant Assessment, which provides online proficiency tests in 36 languages around the world, was having a banner year until March 13, said co-founder/CEO David Bong. Their primary clients are schools. Business dropped off what felt like a cliff.

Summit Bank staff answered questions even late at night.

“They always got back to us. We were very pleased with how they handled our application,” Bong said. “They really care about us. We’re not their biggest client, but they treat us like their biggest client.”

Kidsports, which serves about 13,000 registrants each year, canceled numerous spring and summer team sports after COVID-19 closures started. Executive Director Bev Smith found Summit Bank’s COVID-19 page helpful for getting started. The loan made it possible for Kidsports to rehire furloughed staff, begin moving into its Field House facility and plan for summer camps following state health guidelines, Smith said.

“They were very, very prepared to help their clients in a way that I think was very beneficial in securing us this loan,” Smith said.

Going forward, Bennett said, Summit Bank will continue to focus on helping local businesses and nonprofits get through this challenging time.

“Some businesses out there are struggling. With the right partner, they’ll be able to rebound. We’re really focused on continuing to help our business clients succeed through this,” Bennett said. “And they will.”

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Cara Murez

Cara Murez

Writer / Editor

Cara is a storyteller. Naturally curious about people, she enjoys learning about what makes a person or a business interesting, successful and unique, and then figuring out the best combination of words to highlight that information.