In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, our North Shore banks are stepping up their efforts, making sure the community is safe both physically and financially.
From statewide school cancelations to our favorite restaurants closing their doors, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown all of our worlds into a tailspin.
That goes for the economy, too, which is why local officials and financial institutions are taking steps to protect not only our physical health but also our pocketbooks during such an uncertain time.
“Our teams plan year-round to ensure we have a swift and effective plan in place in the event that situations of this nature arise,” says Tami Gunsch, SEVP, director of relationship banking at Berkshire Bank.
In addition to using intensive cleaning protocols and offering online banking, Berkshire Bank is taking other steps to help customers, too.
“We are dedicated to helping our customers and community members in several different ways during this time, with increased daily debit card limits, waived penalties for early CD withdrawal up to $20,000, and options to request consideration to forbear consumer, mortgage, and small business loans,” Gunsch says.
They’re also working with partners like the Massachusetts LGBTQ Chamber and the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts to provide funding assistance to small businesses, and exploring low-interest rate solutions underwritten by its community partners, for which it intends to set aside $3 million in available capital. In addition, Berkshire Bank Foundation has earmarked an incremental $500,000 for small business grants to help businesses that do not have the ability to pay, says.
Similarly, but on a larger scale, the Baker-Polito Administration announced economic support for small businesses with a $10 million loan fund to provide financial relief to those that have been affected by COVID-19.
The $10 million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund will provide emergency capital up to $75,000 to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by COVID-19 with under fifty full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits. Loans are immediately available to eligible businesses with no payments due for the first six months. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) has capitalized the fund and will administer it. Visit empoweringsmallbusiness.org to apply, and send completed applications to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “2020 Small Business Recovery Loan Fund.”
Other local banks, like Cape Ann Savings Bank, Haverhill Bank, Eastern Bank, Salem Five, and Newburyport Bank, have added sections to their websites detailing their actions to help customers, outlining their stepped-up sanitation procedures, encouraging online and mobile banking services; and alerting customers to coronavirus-related scams and linking to advice from the Federal Trade Commission.
Others, like Marblehead Bank, Lowell Five, and Methuen Co-Operative Bank, are opting for drive-up teller access in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, in addition to reminding customers about their online banking services, according to their websites.
In addition to taking precautions regarding health and safety, Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union has added a note on its website encouraging customers with questions about how their investments or 401(k)s have been affected by the volatile stock market fluctuations to speak with its financial advisors.
Pentucket Bank is also urging customers via its website to reach out with any concerns about their investments, products, and financial help, such as loan payment deferrals and accessing safe deposit boxes.
Through it all, one thing is clear: that the safety and security of customers and their money is paramount for local banks.
“Our number one priority is the safety of our customers, employees, and the broader community,” says Gunsch.