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2020 Annual Report: People Helping People

A Great Place to Be

Anja and Kevin Bladergroen, owners of Blades’ Bistro In early April, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) added the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to their loan offerings and began accepting loan applications from small businesses across the country. According to a recent poll conducted by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one third (32%) of the small business population has applied, or tried to apply, for a PPP loan. Another 13% of businesses still plan to apply.The program is intended to provide economic support to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing closures across the country. The need for PPP loans has been great; however, the application process has reportedly been confusing and cumbersome for many.

While PPP loans are funded and approved by the SBA, businesses must apply through an SBA approved lender like SLFCU. The process can be complicated, and has evolved multiple times since first being released. Small businesses across the country have expressed frustration and concern over applying for a PPP loan and inability to get the support they need in a timely manner.2 Anja and Kevin Bladergroen, owners of Blades’ Bistro in Placitas, NM, feared they would be counted among them. “It was very frightening to fill in all the paperwork and figure out the steps to get it all going,” says Anja. Fortunately for Blades’ Bistro, Anja and Kevin had SLFCU by their side.

To help SLFCU business members navigate the PPP application process, the Credit Union assembled employees across the organization. The team’s sole purpose was to support SLFCU Business Services in facilitating PPP loans for members. The care provided by the team proved to be immeasurable for Anja and Kevin, who had moved their business accounts to SLFCU in 2019. “Casey, our representative at the Credit Union, helped us fill out the paperwork and was wonderful. He kept in contact with us and let us know the Credit Union was assembling a team to help with the PPP loans. He said ‘We’ve got your back. Don’t worry. We’ll be right here right beside you.’ I had never heard that from a bank before,” says Anja.

Other business owners who work with large, corporate banks were not so fortunate. “Some were not as lucky as we were,” says Anja, “A lot of people we know did not get a PPP loan and they are experiencing a lot of stress. Had Casey not helped me fill in that application, I’m not sure how long it would have taken. Because of that – him understanding the questions and knowing the answers – that is why it went so quickly.”

It took less than 14 days for the Bladergroens’ application to be processed and for them to receive their PPP loan. The speed at which they received their funds was remarkable to Anja. “I got a call from the Credit Union on a Saturday. By that afternoon, the funds were in our account. The team was awesome. For us, the experience was positive because of the quick and swift actions from SLFCU. The team was on top of it.”

Receiving their PPP loan has brought peace of mind to Anja and Kevin. Although the bistro stayed open for take-out and curbside pickup, the sharp decline in revenue was starting to have an impact on their business. “We were surviving,” says Anja, “We had put some things in place from Casey’s advice, but every time payroll would come, it was a stressful time.”

Getting a PPP loan meant the Bladergroens didn’t have to worry as much about making payroll each week, and ensured they can receive a paycheck themselves. “We were not taking paychecks prior to the PPP loan. Now we can have a paycheck and there’s peace of mind for our employees. We have wonderful employees that worry about us. Now they know that they don’t have to worry about us as much and that they have a paycheck,” says Anja.

Through it all, the support Anja and Kevin received from SLFCU has made a huge impact and re-affirmed their decision to move their business accounts to SLFCU. “Before we joined SLFCU, we felt like we were just a number,” says Kevin, “That’s the biggest difference. With SLFCU, you are a member, considered a member, and treated as such.”

“You feel as though you are part of a team rather than just by yourself,” adds Anja, “If you want to feel part of a team and have someone backing you up as a business owner, then SLFCU is a great place to be.”

1 https://www.uschamber.com/report/small-business-coronavirus-impact-poll
2 https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanguina/2020/04/04/small-business-owners-frustrated-with-failed-paycheck-protection-program-launch/#51a197e66500

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