Center National Bank has approved nearly $22 million in loans to more than 150 local businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program since April.

The bank provided the PPP loans to new customers who could not otherwise access PPP funding, working around the clock at times to secure the aid, according to a bank news release.

“There is a marked difference between a ‘Main Street bank’ and a Wall Street bank,” Al Liestman, president and chief executive officer of Center National Bank, said. “I could not be prouder of what our team accomplished in support of our local economy. Each PPP loan represents tens, or even hundreds, of jobs preserved in this time of crisis. We truly helped our community and that’s how we do banking.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration reported that community banks like Center National Bank approved about 60 percent of the first-round PPP loans. Nationally, banks with less than $1 billion — a group representing 6 percent of all banking assets — provided nearly 20 percent of first-round PPP dollars.

In Minnesota, more than 94,600 small businesses received $11.2 billion in PPP funding from SBA-approved lenders as of June 20, the agency reported.

“Community banks are coming out the heroes of the program in terms of coming online to serve their local economies, for responsiveness to borrowers, and for the number of loans (relative to their size),” said Brian McDonald, Acting SBA District Director for Minnesota. “Small businesses are benefitting from Minnesota’s strong community banking sector and the lenders who are putting in long hours and submitting record quantities of SBA loans to help shore up their local economies.”

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