For months now, every facet of “normal” life has been upended by COVID-19. Where and how we work, learn, shop, socialize and even bank have all been affected. Yet, the bright spot amid this sea change has been America’s enduring spirit as friends and neighbors work together to stay safe, remain connected, and support one another.

A great example of coming together for the greater good is how the nation’s 5,000 community banks rallied around small businesses, which account for roughly 48 percent of the U.S. workforce and serve as the backbone of our nation’s economy.

When stay-at-home orders forced millions of small businesses to curtail or close their operations, community banks like First Community Bank (FCB) of East Tennessee stepped in to lend support.

So when the Small Business Administration (SBA) turned on the spigot for its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—which backstops emergency small-business loans from financial institutions to help cover payroll and related costs—FCB mobilized every available resource at our disposal to process these loans.

Tyler K. Clinch Chief Executive Officer & President First Community Bank of East TN

“I could not be prouder of our staff, many of whom worked nights and weekends or assumed new roles to get the job done and ensure critical funds were delivered to those who needed it most,” said Tyler K. Clinch, FCB CEO & President. “In just nine weeks, we processed 100 loans totaling $6.6 million dollars helping to save more than 950 jobs within our region.”

FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams recently referred to community banks as “the small engines that could and did and delivered big,” and the numbers certainly seem to support that description. According to the SBA summary of loan approvals through June 6, lenders with less than $50 billion in assets have accounted for more than 65 percent of the 4.5 million approved PPP loans and more than 63 percent of the $511 billion in funds approved since the program’s launch. Nationwide, community banks have received hundreds of loan applications through the program ranging in size from less than $50,000 to more than $500,000, according to a recent ICBA survey.

So, as restrictions lift and you venture out to your favorite bakery, barbershop or boutique, you will be met with “open for business” signs and familiar faces waiting to service you.

“Even before the PPP launched, we’d begun offering our small businesses options for modifications of loan terms and payment deferrals,” added Clinch. “And we continue to seek ways to contribute to our economy and support local businesses.”

When times are tough you can depend on FCB, your trusted local community bank. Because at First Community Bank, relationships are priority one. “We consider it our privilege and duty to ensure the financial health and welfare of this community,” stated Clinch.

“The customers and communities we serve are the driving forces behind all that we do. So, we will continue to do what is right for all who call this region home, including the many beloved local small businesses that help keep our Main Streets thriving.”

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