Santa Cruz Community CU Helps Small Businesses Get Through COVID-19 Crisis

Santa Cruz Community CU
Santa Cruz Community CU staff

When the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) launched, Santa Cruz Community CU—already an SBA lender for some time—immediately set to work.

As the second of two rounds of the program wraps up, the credit union has approved more than $12.1 million in PPP loans to 84 small businesses, saving a total of 1,373 jobs. In Round 1, it approved more than $8.8 million for 26 total businesses, saving 916 jobs. In the second round, it has approved more than $2.9 million, saving another 457 jobs at 58 small businesses. And it continues to process loans.

The first round, according to Santa Cruz Community CU CEO Beth Carr, included several medium-sized businesses and non-profit service providers. The second round has been almost entirely mom-and-pop shops and smaller employers.

The largest loan was for $3.5 million for a company with 350-plus employees. The smallest loan was for $2,500 for a one-employee business, said EVP Richard Cooper.

“The California Credit Union League, which intervened with the SBA and helped to get the smaller financial institutions their own time to submit PPP loans last week, was nothing short of a miracle,” Carr said. “We were up and running fast on the PPP loans in both the first and second waves, but our staff were submitting loans on to the system between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. in order to get them submitted.”

Cooper said the lending department is a staff of three plus him.

“The staff worked hard because they knew they were saving jobs in the community,” Cooper added.

The hard work has paid off in terms of the feedback it has received from businesses grateful for the lifeline. Carr said one person from one of the local businesses helped, even sent the credit union a poem: “Roses are red; violets are blue; the very best credit union is SCCCU.”

A focus for both Carr and Cooper with the PPP loans was to help non-profit organizations, of which there are many in the region.

“I believe this is the first time federal emergency programs provided funds for non-profits, and it was so great to get them help,” Carr added.

In addition to helping small businesses via the Paycheck Protection Program, Santa Cruz Community CU also has partnered with the city of Santa Cruz to help those who either didn’t qualify for a PPP loan or couldn’t get one. The city program had $500,000 in redevelopment microloans (of $5,000 to $10,000) for small businesses, and with the help of the credit union, was able to loan out the entire amount. Additionally, the credit union has provided to date, approximately $350,000 in low-rate emergency loans to members during this pandemic.

And through its partnership with the Salinas-based California Coastal Rural Development Corporation, a nonprofit loan agency, it also is providing more loans to small businesses via a state program that was granting up to $50,000 loans. The credit union puts the loans on its books, but they are guaranteed by the agency, Carr said.

Now, Santa Cruz Community CU is in talks with the County of Santa Cruz to help those at shelters who have stimulus checks but can’t get them cashed anywhere.

“I’m so proud of the diversity of programs that we have been able to provide to help our members and the community during this time,” Carr said, “I am even more proud of our staff, who internalized the needs of our members, knew they were saving jobs by their actions and took serving members to the next level, including getting up in the middle of the night to input PPP applications. We didn’t suggest that; our staff did in order to assist our members.”

Weekly Update: CA and NV Credit Union COVID-19 Relief
According to weekly survey data collected by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues from late March to mid-May, credit unions in both states have accomplished the following for their members:

  • Nearly 509,000 members have been provided financial relief.
  • More than 517,000 extensions made on $13.6 billion in member loans.
  • Approximately $58 million provided in emergency loans to members.
  • More than 2 million fees waived for members.
  • About $1.24 billion employee/business loans made via the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department’s federal relief program.

While credit union data in both states is still being gathered every week, the Leagues' ongoing COVID-19 Impact Survey continues to track how credit unions are assisting consumers during the economic fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic and which ones are participating in the SBA’s PPP funding efforts.

The data represents a great majority of credit unions in California and Nevada, but not all. The Leagues are encouraging credit unions every Monday to complete the survey by sending CEOs a link. The numbers continue helping the Leagues tell a powerful, compelling story about the impact credit unions are making in their communities.

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