The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the economy. Concerns about virus transmission and access to vital medical care have impacted many sectors, ranging from hospitality and retail to a host of others. After social distancing policies shut down all but essential businesses in many states, owners of small companies needed support to deal with an unimaginable economic change.
Comerica Bank has been and will continue to be committed to supporting small businesses as they grapple with the COVID-19 economic aftermath.
PPP loans offer a lifeline
The federal government’s strategy to address this widespread economic downturn included the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a lending plan administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that was created to provide relief to small businesses.
These loans are specifically designed to help small businesses keep their employees on payroll. The PPP also helps owners address basic expenses such as rent, interest on mortgage payments and utility bills. Most importantly for small businesses facing reduced or zero revenue due to the pandemic, PPP loans can be forgiven if the funds are used to address these needs.
The PPP plan was established through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and administered by the SBA, which also guarantees each loan. However, it was up to financial institutions across the country to play an indispensable role as private lenders, providing the funds to affected businesses that had their applications approved. Comerica Bank stepped up to offer support to our customers in this trying time.
How Comerica Bank supported customers
With $4.1 billion in loans expected to be funded, Comerica Bank processed nearly 13,000 applications, and 100% of eligible and complete applications received approval from the SBA. The funding will positively impact nearly 250,000 workers.
Other important facts to note:
● 81% of loans went to companies with fewer than 50 employees.
● 56% went to companies with fewer than 10 employees.
● Funding went primarily to five states: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Texas.
Our PPP customer success stories
At Comerica Bank, we were focused on helping customers during this difficult time through our role in processing applications and disbursing PPP funds. This big picture view is important, but it is crucial to understand how individual businesses utilized these funds to stabilize operations and keep moving forward as states slowly started to reopen. Here are three stories from Comerica Bank customers whose PPP loans played a vital role in keeping their doors open and employees paid.
Carrie Theis, general manager and co-owner, Hofsas House Hotel
Hofsas House Hotel is a boutique hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. With 73 years in operation, it’s a well-established multigenerational family business. Carrie Theis, the general manager and co-owner, works alongside her mother, brother and son in managing the business and creating an excellent experience for guests.
Few industries have been hit as hard by the pandemic as hospitality. Travel plummeted, with Carrie noting that she’d never seen her sales drop so quickly. However, she wanted to keep paying her employees and stay open to provide a place for travelers on essential business to safely shelter. After a PPP application with one of her banking partners became a complicated and frustrating process, she turned to Comerica Bank - and she said she could not be happier with the results.
After submitting her application, Carrie heard back from a Comerica Bank representative the very next day with additional information and instructions.
“It was very refreshing to find someone actively trying to help,” Carrie said.
The process only took a total of eight days from start to finish, with Carrie receiving critical funding that has helped Hofsas House continue to operate as it has for the better part of a century. The loan also provided the breathing room that Carrie needed to adjust the company’s marketing strategy for the future. Carrie kept her full-time staff on payroll and had the funds to bring on an additional full-time employee, along with two part-time workers.
Jaime Rae Turnbull, owner, JR Turnbull Communications
JR Turnbull Communications offers event consulting and logistics support for businesses and nonprofits, with a strong emphasis on giving back to the community in and around Detroit, MI. The company’s work with for-profit organizations focuses on those businesses’ philanthropic pursuits. The owner, Jaime Rae Turnbull, has decades of experience in nonprofit management, as well as marketing and event planning.
With events both large and small curtailed due to social distancing restrictions in Michigan, JR Turnbull faced the loss of a major revenue source. Many nonprofits and businesses simply could not continue their contracts with JR Turnbull, at least in the short term, because they weren’t allowed to host fundraising events. Having a great deal of pride in her team and all that they have accomplished in terms of supporting nonprofits, one of Jaime Rae’s top priorities was keeping them together.
An excellent relationship with her local Comerica Bank branch and its manager, Jennifer, encouraged Jaime Rae to apply for a PPP loan. The process went smoothly and ended with an approved loan. This enabled Jaime Rae to accomplish two key objectives:
- Keeping all of her staff on payroll.
- Giving her the time necessary to shift JR Turnbull’s strategy toward consulting and strategic planning while live events are heavily restricted.
“The biggest result that I didn’t expect was that we applied and the process was so smooth,” Jaime Rae said. “I want to give credit to my team for being so prepared with the documentation. And the seamlessness of receiving the funds was pretty remarkable. Comerica made the funding part of the process incredibly efficient.”
Cynthia J. Bush, president, Ocean (Caribbean) Distributors, Inc.
Ocean (Caribbean) Distributors is a small fragrance manufacturer. It focuses on a niche market through a strongly defined marketing point of view. The company offers the designer fragrance of the Caribbean, Tiv, through its online store.
As an online-only business, Ocean (Caribbean) Distributors still made sales to customers, but volume dropped. This impacted plans to prepare for the winter holiday season - traditionally the largest sales period for fragrances - and to expand its product line. It became increasingly difficult to meet payroll for employees and pay consultants. This spurred the decision to apply for a PPP loan through Comerica Bank.
Comerica Bank’s support was crucial during the application process, as team members helped Cynthia work through a technical glitch early on and continued checking in to offer updates and guidance. Even after the loan was approved, Comerica Bank staff kept reaching out to ensure everything was OK and her company received the money.
With the PPP funds in hand, Ocean (Caribbean) Distributors kept its employees on board and gained valuable time to continue developing strategy in a turbulent time.
“With Comerica Bank, there was constant monitoring to make sure I was satisfied and everything was moving along,” Cynthia said. “That really made me feel very, very comfortable. I was delighted by that.”
Continuing to support our customers
Comerica Bank remains committed to supporting our customers during a time of great uncertainty. We know all of our customers are critical for our success, and we help them with a continued focus on effective customer support. Learn more about our business banking services.