Meet Ellen Morehouse, Credit Support Manager

Ellen Morehouse joined Merchants Bank in May of 2011. She started as a Credit Analyst and is now Credit Support Manager. Sometimes these titles can sound a little vague. What is it that Credit Support professionals do at a bank? Ellen provides some context.

Ellen, can you explain what the Credit Support team does?

Sure! The credit support team helps our consumer and commercial lenders keep track of documentation, making sure it’s all accurate and keeping an eye on all the details, really.

One way to break it down is I oversee “Credit Support,” which can be broken up into three departments: the Appraisal and Evaluation Team, the Importing and Reporting Team and the Post-Closing team.

  • The Appraisal and Evaluation Team orders property appraisals and makes sure we operate within legal compliance there.
  • The Importing and Reporting Team makes sure all loan paperwork we need to retain and track are in our systems accurately.
  • The Post-Closing Team takes care of any necessary reporting or documentation after a loan is closed.

What do you like most about your job?

I love the variety. One of the things we really keep an eye on is how all the different areas of credit support work together and how we’re making sure our processes are efficient so that the lenders can work with their customers in a timely manner.

It also helps a lot to have a great team! We all work well together and have a lot of fun along the way.

You were previously a Credit Analyst and now the Credit Support Manager. Beyond the change in job title, how have you grown in your time with Merchants?

I was fortunate to participate in our internal leadership development program, the I Believe Leadership Series, Class of 2019 -2020. That experience really taught me the importance of being able to always come back to a positive mindset.

My biggest takeaway that I do every day now is identify three things I’m grateful for each morning. There’s science that shows that focusing on what you’re grateful for can help keep your mental game strong.

I think that’s something important that I bring to the team, is a positivity that even when the going gets tough, we know how to keep our chin up and get through it all together.

Congratulations, New and Promoted Staff


We are happy to have these new employees on our team! If you’re interested in working with these local experts, find your branch.

New Staff

Erin Beier, Customer Service Representative, Lakeside
Samantha Bratland, Teller, Caledonia
Greg Brown, Investment Advisor, Twin Cities
Paula Carty, Underwriter, Winona
Natasha Flynn, Teller, Rochester – Green Meadows
Molly GleasonMolly Gleason, Lending Assistant, Northfield
Austin HeaneyAustin Heaney, Teller, Caledonia
Sarah HuangSarah Huang, Teller, Hastings
Amy Kalember, Mortgage Processing Supervisor, Winona
Mark Little, Teller, Spring Grove
Jon Marley, Market President, St. Charles
Alayna McCarville, Teller, Onalaska
Jolea Tarbox, Teller, Eau Claire
Nicole Williamson, Mortgage Lender, Rochester – Green Meadows

Transfers and Promotions

Angie BooherAngie Booher, Mortgage Loan Processor, Winona
Tony DenstadTony Denstad, Courier, Winona
Becky FaustBecky Faust, Assistant Security/Operations Officer, Northfield
Amy GrossAmy Gross, Lead Teller, Caledonia
Zach KasenZach Kasen, IT Workstation & Peripherals, Winona
JR Larkie, Mortgage Loan Processor, Winona
Rachel LarsonRachel Larson, Manager of Collections, Winona
Heidi McCormickHeidi McCormick, Lead Teller, Northfield
Ellen Morehouse, Credit Support Manager, Winona
Adrian QuillingAdrian Quilling, Mortgage Lender, Rosemount
Tim Shelton, Treasury Management Sales Support, Winona
Tricia SlaytonTricia Slayton, Mortgage Loan Processor, Northfield
Nicci VosejpkaNicci Vosejpka, Lending Assistant, Northfield
Jessica WieseJessica Wiese, Customer Service Representative, Caledonia
Katelyn ZiebellKatelyn Ziebell, Mortgage Loan Processor, Winona

Where You Need Us, When You Need Us: Now and Always

Employee On Phone Wearing A Mask
Dana Christensen, Customer Service Representative

Stocked with hand sanitizer, masks and shields, we’re ready and happy to help you in person in our branches. Although we understand that as communities continue to have positive cases of COVID-19, you might want to limit your “in-person” errands. Or maybe you’re just getting really comfy at home.

Either way, we’re ready to serve you however you prefer to reach us. We wanted to gather up (almost) all the ways you can take care of your banking with us:

1. Online & Mobile Banking

First and foremost, the best way to see what’s going on with your account is our now enhanced Personal Online & Mobile Banking. Of course you can take care of all the basics: checking balances, making a transfer, viewing transactions and deposit images, viewing statements (if you’re signed up for eStatements), paying bills, etc.

But now with enhanced features like 24/7 access to your credit score, account alerts, a budgeting tool and more, you have easier access to more details of your financial situation.

2. Merchants Bank Credit Card App

Hot off the press: the Merchants Bank Credit Card App. If you have our credit card, you can download this free app to:

  • Turn your credit card “on” and “off” giving you peace of mind if you lose your card.
  • Control where your credit card can be used, such as limiting transactions by location or store type.
  • Get real-time data, tracking and insights into your credit card purchases.
  • Receive instant alerts about possible fraud and take action.

3. Our Drive-Ups

Maybe you’re feeling like if you have to do one more thing from home you’ll lose your marbles: hop in your car and head to your nearest Merchants Bank Drive-Up!

Our Drive-Ups can handle pretty much anything you’d do at the teller line. And if you’ve been in touch with your banker and simply need to sign some documents, chances are they’ll be able to meet you in the Drive-Up, but best to discuss options with your banker beforehand.

4. Phone Call

A classic. Tried and true. Give us a ring and we’ll do our best to help. You can contact your local branch or one of our specialty departments such as Electronic Banking, Credit Card or Loan Servicing.

So, if you have a question or concern, we’re happy to help and looking forward to hearing from you, however we hear from you. Stay safe, be well!

Refinancing: Is It For You? An Example

Watch how you could save on your mortgage payments by refinancing.

Why might I want to refinance?

The idea behind refinancing a home mortgage is simple: You’re taking out a new loan to pay off and replace the current one. The goal is to lower your interest rate, reduce the loan term, switch a loan type, or to access the equity in your home.

One reason to refinance might be to shorten the term of your loan – say from 30 years to 15 so you’d pay less money for your home overall.

An Example:

If you currently have a $200,000, 30-year loan at 3.511% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) your monthly payment would be $866.96 (principal & interest), or $319,307.17 total over the term of the loan.

However, if you were able to refinance to a 15-year mortgage with a lower rate, maybe 2.842% APR, your monthly payment would increase to 1,347.75, but you’d pay $242,594.26 total. That’s over $76,000 less overall*!

Other Reasons and Considerations

Another reason to refinance would be to switch from an adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed rate, which would protect you if the adjustable rate were to rise.

Refinancing does come with some costs, which can run into the thousands of dollars. There will be a variety of fees and other expenses, such as points, that will need to be paid up front. If you have to pay 1% on a $200,000 loan, for example, that would be $2,000.

If you’re considering refinancing, speak with your lender about your options and costs before making a decision. They’ll also have a variety of questions about income, expenses and your credit score that can affect your loan and rate.

The ultimate goal is to make sure refinancing makes good financial sense for you.


*Estimates are based on a loan amount of $200,000 with 20% down payment, prepaid finance charges of $1,343.31 and a credit score of 740.

The actual rate available to you will be based upon your credit history and may be different than the rate disclosed.

Rates are for the financing of a single-family primary residence with a 75-day lock.

If the down payment is less than 20%, mortgage insurance may be needed, which could increase the monthly payment and APR.

Rates also may be higher for cash-out refinances above 70% Loan-to-Value, non-escrowed loans, loan amounts below $100,000 and/or loan amounts greater than $484,350.

30-Year Fixed = 360 monthly payments. 15-Year Fixed = 180 monthly payments.

Payment does not include taxes and insurance and actual payment obligation may be greater.

Figuring Out Your Finances: 3 Tools You Need to Know About

Woman On Tablet Sitting On Couch

There’s a lot of information out there on the web and our website is no exception. You can find a ton of knowledge on our site that can help you stay in the know and be better prepared for all things money:


Calculators: Pretty much used for school and figuring out tips. Well, we have some other specific (and super helpful) ones:

  • Predict a monthly mortgage payment
  • Compare renting a place vs. buying one
  • Go with a low-interest loan on a vehicle or do a rebate
  • Map out how you could save $1 million dollars (!!!)
  • Get more insight on many other financial situations

You can find these and SO many others on our website.

Education Center: Money IQ

Money management can be confusing and you might not feel as capable as you’d hope – that’s okay! Or maybe you have it all together and have a great grasp on what you’re doing financially. Either way, you might still have some questions.

Enter: Money IQ! In the spotlight at the top of our Education Center webpage, you’ll find a treasure trove of information on financial basics like getting your emergency savings account in shape and cutting back on spending to specific life situations like keeping track of a wedding budget.

Check out all Money IQ has to offer and start setting yourself up with that financial stability you might be craving.

You can also find video tutorials and click through demos of our financial management tools that are in Merchants Bank Online Banking, such as Credit Sense, our budget tracking tool called Spending and account alerts, as well as many others.

Current Rates

Okay, this one might seem obvious: we have some awesome charts where you can see the most current rates for checking accounts, savings accounts, Certificate of Deposits (CDs) and mortgage loans.

If you’re a numbers person, you don’t have to wonder what the current rate is. And if you like what you see, you can apply right away online. Or, if you have more questions, you can fill out the “Get in Touch” form to the right and your local expert will be in touch!

BONUS: Credit Score FAQs

And one more, because you’re worth it: your credit score questions = answered. We have a specific page of our site specifically dedicated to addressing those common credit score questions.

If you (or maybe your teenager) is wondering about how to build or improve your credit score, this is a great page to check out.

Nicole Williamson Joins Merchants Bank as Mortgage Lender

Nicole Williamson, Mortgage Lender

Nicole Williamson has joined Merchants Bank as a Mortgage Lender, according to Dave Engstler, Branch Manager for Merchants’ Rochester-Green Meadows location.

“Nicole brings valuable experience to our team that will be a benefit to families and individuals across the Rochester area looking for their first or next home,” said Engstler. “With mortgage and refinance rates incredibly low, now is a great time to give Nicole a call.”

Williamson has been in banking for more than 10 years in the Rochester market in various customer service positions, including Mortgage Advisor for the last six years. She is well-versed in the home and construction loan process as well as Minnesota-specific loan program options.

“I joined Merchants because of their community focus and the pride they take in being a partner for their customer’s financial well-being. I am passionate about helping customers achieve their homeownership dreams and find homes where they can grow and make memories,” said Williamson.

Williamson grew up locally in Chatfield, MN and currently resides in St. Charles with her husband, Kyle, and two daughters. She attended Saint Mary’s University in Winona with a double major in Marketing and Management with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship. Outside of work, she and her family enjoy spending time on the water boating and fishing and at their family cabin in Northern Minnesota.

The Merchants Bank Mortgage team is comprised of nearly 20 local mortgage lenders, available throughout our regional footprint, backed by our in-house mortgage processing, underwriting and loan servicing teams. In addition to traditional mortgage loans, Merchants mortgage lenders can assist with mortgage pre-approval, construction loans, and specialized mortgage programs such as VA, FHA, Rural Development and more available through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We’re committed to being there for our customers after loan closing and service nearly $2.6 billion in mortgage loans annually.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.1 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875.

Merchants’ Second Quarter Earnings Report Shows Stable Performance and Continued COVID-19 Relief Assistance

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) has announced financial results for the second quarter and details about COVID-19 assistance provided to its customers, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

Second quarter earnings of $8,442,992 were behind MFGI’s 2020 plan by $346,298 and behind 2019 mid-year results by $484,989. June earnings were profitable for MFGI even though the Company reversed $4 million out of income in the form of additional Allowance for Loan/Lease Loss Reserves as a precautionary measure to cover potential loan risk as the challenging economic situation continues to unfold.

“Our profitable performance through two quarters is a source of pride for our extraordinary employee team, which has been intensely focused on assisting our customers and communities experiencing hardship due to the COVID pandemic,” said Evans. “Most gratifying is the feedback I’ve received from clients who are appreciative of how our bankers have been available to them in serving as trusted advisors at this difficult time.”

Since March, Merchants has provided relief to more than 1,300 consumer and business loan customers in good standing in the form of loan payment deferment programs across all product categories. The Bank continues to assist business customers across its footprint with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) financing through the Small Business Administration and will be accepting applications through the August 8, 2020 deadline. Merchants has been one of Minnesota’s PPP banking leaders, originating more than 1,500 loans with total volume of approximately $200 million. In addition, Merchants reported a 16.1% increase in deposits and origination volume of $478 million of residential mortgage loans through the first half of the year, as customers take advantage of the current interest rate environment.

“We want our customers and communities to know that Merchants will continue to be a source of assistance for those hit hardest by the pandemic and that we take our responsibility as a community bank seriously. We’re here to be your financial partner as you navigate challenges in the coming months,” Evans noted.

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group, Inc. is made up of its more than 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.1 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875.

Andrew Althoff Promoted to Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

Andrew (Andy) Althoff has been promoted to Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Northfield, according to Tim Viere, Northfield Regional President. Andrew replaces Becky Behrens, who is retiring on July 31 after 39 years serving mortgage customers in Northfield.

“We’re excited to have Andrew’s mortgage expertise on staff. His background in mortgage processing means he knows exactly what is needed to process a mortgage application and that will translate into meaningful conversations with potential homebuyers upfront,” said Viere.

Althoff has been with Merchants Bank since 2014 as a Credit Operations Representative and most recently a Mortgage Loan Processor. He has been working as part of the Northfield team since Merchants Bank closed on the sale of the First National Bank of Northfield in August 2019 and has enjoyed learning from Becky in that time. Althoff is from the Cannon Falls area and graduated from Winona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

“I look forward to serving the people of Northfield and helping them realize their dreams of home ownership. I am determined to make the process of home buying and refinancing as seamless as possible,” said Althoff.

The Merchants Bank Mortgage team is comprised of nearly 20 local mortgage lenders, available throughout our regional footprint, backed by our in-house mortgage processing, underwriting and loan servicing teams. In addition to traditional mortgage loans, Merchants mortgage lenders can assist with mortgage pre-approval, construction loans, and specialized mortgage programs such as VA, FHA, Rural Development and more available through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We’re committed to being there for our customers after loan closing and service nearly $2.6 billion in mortgage loans annually.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.1 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to credit approval.

Frequently Asked Questions: PPP Loan Forgiveness

Understanding all the details of the Small Business Adminstration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) can be a challenge. Many of you may be wondering about the next steps regarding your PPP loan, and specifically about how to request loan forgiveness for the funds you used. That’s why we’re walking through some of the most frequently asked questions about loan forgiveness and sharing important things you need to know when requesting forgiveness.

First, we wanted you to be aware that the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, enacted in June, has modified some of the original program requirements, with a goal of making it easier for small businesses to qualify for forgiveness in the wake of coronavirus-related restrictions and guidelines that have delayed reopening for many businesses.

PPP loans are eligible for full or partial forgiveness if the loan proceeds are used in accordance with forgiveness rules and guidelines, which have already been modified several times.

In addition to changes introduced in the Flexibility Act, on June 17 the Treasury Department revised the PPP loan forgiveness application to make it more borrower friendly. Besides revising the full application, the Small Business Administration has added an EZ Forgiveness Application for certain borrowers.

Q: What are the main changes in the new Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act?

A: Small businesses that qualify for a PPP loan now have up to 24 weeks, or no later than Dec. 31, 2020, to use the money to qualify for loan forgiveness, which is an increase from the previous eight-week period. If your loan was funded prior to the passage of the PPP Flexibility Act, your covered period is automatically extended to 24 weeks, but if you choose to follow the original eight-week period you have that option.

Another change modifies the requirements that at least 75% of the funds had to be used for payroll costs and 25% for certain other costs. Those numbers have now been shifted to 60% for payroll-related costs and 40% for expenditures on mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs.

Additionally, new borrowers will have five years to repay the loan, instead of two.

Q: Who is responsible for documenting my eligible costs?

A: As the loan recipient, you are responsible for documenting your eligible expenses. If you have questions about what to document, please contact your Commercial Banker.

Q: When does the 24-week the clock start?

A: The 24-week covered period begins on the date your loan is funded.

Q: Is there a deadline to apply for a PPP loan?

A: Yes, the latest deadline to apply for a loan has been extended until August 8, 2020.

Q: Where do I submit my potentially forgivable expenses?

A: At the end of the 24-week covered period, you will need to provide the necessary documentation to your Commercial Banker when applying for loan forgiveness. Merchants is offering the ability to complete the forgiveness application and provide supporting documentation electronically.  Contact your Commercial Banker to learn more about this process. The Flexibility Act allows borrowers up to 10 months from the date their covered period ends to apply for loan forgiveness. Principal and interest payments would begin at that time.

Q: How has the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application changed?

A: The full original PPP forgiveness application was 11 pages long, but the newest version released in June has been reduced to 5. In addition, the EZ Forgiveness Application is only 3 pages. The SBA says the EZ application “requires fewer calculations and less documentation for eligible borrowers.”

The EZ application applies to borrowers that:

  • Are self-employed and have no employees; OR
  • Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees; OR
  • Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%.

The two applications allow borrowers the option of using either the extended 24-week covered period introduced in the Flexibility Act, or the original 8-week covered period if their loan was made prior to June 5, 2020.

Before starting an application, you should discuss with your Commercial Banker which one would be right for your business.

Q: What documents will be required for forgiveness?

A: Here are the documents you’ll need:

  • Verification of full-time equivalent employees and their pay rates, including:
    • Payroll reports.
    • Payroll tax filings (Form 941).
    • Payroll, income and unemployment insurance filings from your state.
    • Verification of any health insurance and retirement contributions.
  • Verification (payment receipts, account statements, canceled checks) of eligible utility, rent and mortgage interest payments.
  • You’ll need to certify that the documents are true and that you used the forgiveness amount to keep employees and make eligible utility, mortgage interest and rent payments.

Q: What eligible costs should I be tracking?

A: There are several areas you’ll want to track.

  • Payroll costs: These costs include:
    • Salary and wages (not to exceed $100,000 for any individual employee as prorated during the covered period), commissions and other compensation.
    • Cash tips
    • Retirement contributions
    • Parental, family, medical or sick leave
    • Payments for vacation
    • Group health care coverage, including insurance premiums
    • Separation or dismissal allowance
    • State and local payroll taxes
  • Utilities: You can include the costs of the following services if established before Feb. 15, 2020 – Electricity, water, gas, internet, telephone, and fuel costs for business vehicles.
  • Mortgage interest: If mortgage was signed prior to Feb. 15, 2020.
  • Rent: If leasing agreement was in effect prior to Feb. 15, 2020.

Q: How should I record my expenses?

A: You should keep careful records for all qualifying forgiveness expenses. As noted above, Merchants has the capability to accept your application and supporting documents electronically. The system assists with auto filling some of the basic information and allows for communication with the bank, which will provide greater efficiency in this process.  Remember that you will also want to keep a complete record, either electronic or hard copy, of all your PPP loan information for your own files.

Q: What are the top considerations for PPP loan forgiveness?

A: Employee retention and salaries or wages paid to employees are the primary considerations. It is important that you maintain your staff headcount and compensation levels to maximize loan forgiveness.

Q: How will I know if I’ve met my staffing requirements?

A: A reduction in the number of employees will affect the amount of your loan forgiveness. You can take the number of full-time equivalent employees you had between either Feb. 15 and June 30, 2019, or Jan. 1 and Feb. 29, 2020, and compare that number to the number of FTEs you had during the covered 8-week period after your loan was funded. If during your coverage period you have equal to or more employees than your comparison period, that would meet the requirement for forgiveness. If you have fewer, your forgivable expenses will be reduced.

For seasonal businesses, you can use average monthly payroll for the period between Feb. 15, 2019, or March 1, 2019, and June 30, 2019.  An applicant that was not in business from February 15, 2019 to June 30, 2019 may use the average monthly payroll costs for the period Jan. 1, 2020 through Feb. 29, 2020. 

Q: What if I need to rehire employees to qualify for loan forgiveness? 

A: You have until Dec. 31, 2020, to restore your full-time employment and meet compensation requirements, but the new legislation offers an exception for borrowers who lose FTEs. It allows that if between Feb. 15 and Dec.31, 2020, the amount of loan forgiveness won’t be reduced if the borrower, in good faith, is able to document any of the following circumstances:

  • An inability to rehire someone who was an employee of the business on Feb. 15 or being unable to hire a similarly qualified person.
  • The business was unable to return to the same level of activity as it was operating at before Feb. 15th due to compliance with requirements or guidance from Health and Human Services Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during the period between March 21 and Dec. 31, 2020, related to the maintenance of standards for sanitation, physical distancing, or any other worker or customer safety requirement related to COVID– 19.

Q: What if I decreased employee wages?

If an employee is earning $100,000 annually or less and their pay is reduced by more than 25%, the amount of forgiveness will be reduced by the difference between their coverage period pay and 75% of their comparison period pay.

For example, if an employee was earning $24,000 during the 24-week comparison period, but earns only $15,000 during the PPP covered period you’d calculate it like this:

$24,000 x .75 = $18,000

            $18,000 – $15,000 = $3,000 (not qualified)

                        $15,000 – $3,000 = $12,000 (forgivable amount)

Q: How will I know if my PPP loan has been forgiven?

A: We will communicate with you via the online forgiveness program that we are utilizing.

Q: What happens if I’m not OK’d for PPP loan forgiveness?

A: Your Commercial Banker will follow up with you if your PPP loan was not approved for forgiveness and provide with you with more details on repayment. If you do not qualify for any forgiveness based on the documentation you provide, the amount of your outstanding PPP loan balance will need to be repaid over the term of the loan.

Q: My existing PPP loan is for two years, can that be changed?

A: Yes, but it will be up to you and your Commercial Banker. While new borrowers will have five years to repay their loans, previous borrowers only had two. The Flexibility Act allows that to be changed to five years if the Commercial Banker and borrower agree.

Q: What about forgiveness for sole proprietors and independent contractors?

A: For your loan to be forgiven, you must have spent at least 60% of the funds on payroll costs, which include an amount for owner compensation based upon 2019 net earnings. The remaining amount, which cannot exceed 40% of the loan, must be spent on interest on a mortgage, a loan secured by personal property used in the business, rent, and utilities. To the extent that these expenses are incurred in connection with a home office, only the tax-deductible portion will apply. These expenses must have occurred within the 24 weeks after the loan is funded.

If you have any questions regarding your PPP loan or the process for loan forgiveness, please contact your Commercial Banker, who can walk you through next steps.

Please note: The information in this article is not definitive and requirements can change as new guidance is issued by the U.S Department of the Treasury. As necessary, you should consult with your accountant, attorney or Commercial Banker on questions regarding forgiveness of your PPP loan.

Loan forgiveness is subject to approval.

Company Update from CEO Greg Evans: 2nd Quarter 2020

It was 145 years ago this very week that Merchants Bank was founded with a vision of being the local bank of choice for the working class. I can’t begin to imagine the trials and tribulations encountered by our customers in those early years, but I know with confidence that the same resilience and resolve that would have been undoubtedly required for business owners and workers back then remain absolutely present in the communities served by Merchants today.

Lobbies Are Open: Thank You for Your Patience

It’s my sincere hope that you and your employees are safe and healthy. Thank you for your patience as we at Merchants Bank have navigated with an intense commitment to protecting the well-being of all stakeholders to the very best of our collective ability. We know that the action we took to close access to our lobbies on March 19 was necessary, but we are not ignorant to the possible service disruption you may have experienced. I’m extremely proud of the efforts made by all Merchants Bank associates to embrace creative new ways to meet the needs of our customers and it’s my sincere hope that any disruption you may have experienced was minimal.

We re-opened our Bank lobbies with confidence on June 22. We are thrilled that our customers have responded appropriately to the distancing markers in our facilities and our encouragement to wear masks out of respect to the health and safety of our customers, employees and communities.

Top Priority: Business Stability

In addition to our intense focus on the health of all stakeholders at this time, throughout the pandemic our top business priority has been to be a source of financial stabilization for our customers. We have demonstrated this in multiple ways, most notably with our very quick mobilization in originating Paycheck Protection Program loans through the Small Business Administration. Even though the program opened in early April without clear guidance, we were positioned from the program launch date to assist our clients.  We have assisted more than 1,100 small business owners by originating more than $200 million in loans through this program. We have also worked with hundreds of businesses and individuals to accommodate loan payment deferrals based on each unique customer case.

It’s at times of stress and uncertainty that having trusted advisors is most important. It is my sincere hope that we have played that role effectively for you and your business throughout the past few months. I have heard from dozens of customers throughout the recent pandemic, letting me know how grateful they have been for having a true relationship with one of our bankers during this time of stress. However, if we have fallen short in that regard, I would welcome a contact from you to let me know how we might have done better. 

Earning Your Trust

As we all begin to navigate toward the uncertainty of what a “new normal” will be, make sure you have advisors you can trust. Develop a strong sense of confidence that the people advising you on financial matters have your best interests in mind. It’s my expectation that your Commercial Banker at Merchants will meet that standard.

Thank you for your continued trust and confidence. We respect that it’s our responsibility to work to earn your loyalty each and every day… now, during this unprecedented time, more than ever. We appreciate you giving us that opportunity. Stay safe and be well.