First Southwest Bank Named a PPP Hero

Durango Photographer, Allison Ragsdale

First Southwest Bank • August 30, 2021


From the Governor to Local Business Owners, First Southwest Bank Named a PPP Hero 

First Southwest Bank (FSWB) is honored to be recognized as a PPP Hero by Colorado Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). We were among 30 banks, credit unions and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) to be recognized for our work in 2020 to process Paycheck Protection Program loans for Colorado businesses.  
 
Governor Jared Polis explained in the press release sent out by the Colorado OEDIT that across Colorado “our lending institutions processed 196,258 loans, providing more than $15 billion dollars in funds with an average loan size of $77,144, 14.31% larger than the national average. This money saved thousands of jobs and helped power the Colorado comeback.”
 
As a locally owned, CDFI bank in Southern Colorado, we knew it was our duty to step up and support the Colorado businesses who needed assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether we had a previous relationship with the business or not. 

“One of the decisions that we made early on with the PPP program was that we were going to open the program up to everyone who applied, not wanting anyone to be left behind or left out, particularly those in the greatest need,” said Sherry Waner, FSWB Chief Development Officer in an interview for a story published by The Colorado Sun. “We saw right away that there was going to be a need for that and jumped right in and offered it up, basically to anyone who would apply, as long as they were within the state of Colorado.”

Ultimately, through the PPP loan program we loaned $99 million to 1,559 small businesses in 131 towns in Colorado, 63% of which were granted in our Southern Colorado market. About 1,000 of these businesses were new customers. The average loan size was $63,000, and as of July 23, 2021, about 55% have been forgiven. (For reference, we typically grant approximately 300 loans per year, about twenty percent of the volume that we processed during the Pandemic).

Additionally, we helped retain 6,828 jobs in 85 towns across Colorado through Round One of the PPP loan program. This work was so critical to our communities, it earned us the designation of “Business of the Year” from the Durango Chamber of Commerce.

It has been so encouraging to see the impact we’ve been able to make, and to witness the resilience and determination of the people and the businesses in the communities we serve. We have loved hearing stories and feedback from the businesses we worked with like Durango Photographer, Allison Ragsdale. 

“First Southwest Bank is our hero!” Allison said “From the second we reached out to let them know we were interested in applying, they were in constant contact with updates and information as it became available. We worked with several different people during the process, and they all went above and beyond! This bank is another reason we love this community and are so grateful for their help to keep us in business so we can continue to be part of this community! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!"

Outcomes like these are what initially drove us to make this the best program possible. We wanted to deliver on our goal of supporting those Colorado businesses in need quickly and efficiently. Very early on, we worked with a technology platform to streamline our process and make it as positive an experience as possible. Our efficiency and broad reach clearly set us apart, especially when compared to the limited work of larger banks. Chase, for example, holds 12% of U.S. banking assets but accounted for only 1.6% of PPP loans.

We have continued our efforts into 2021. Overall, our loans in Round Two have been smaller, with an average loan size of $57,000. In Round Two, we booked 756 loans totaling $43 million which helped retain 5,068 jobs in 115 towns across Colorado.

We’re thrilled for the recognition by Governor Polis and happy to continue servicing our PPP customers, many of whom have moved into Small Business Administration and other loan programs the bank and our partner not-for-profit, the First Southwest Community Fund, offer entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations.

For more information about the First Southwest Community Fund visit FSWCF.org.