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Heather Manley owns two small businesses in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area and said the bank she uses for her tech company, On-Demand Group, “was definitely on the ball sharing info, timelines, and all the information we needed.”
“For me, what was more exhausting was the three webinars I sat on every day for about a week as this program chameleonic by the hour into something new. There was so much information, panic, and misinformation — I’m sure it was incredibly overwhelming for many,” she told Business Insider. “In comparison, my bank, Highland Bank — they were awesome.”
Manley’s banker at Highland, Melissa Johnston, explained that her bank is “right in the sweet spot between big enough and not too big.” Highland is in the $500 million asset range, so was large enough to have a dedicated SBA team, into which it surged additional employees from elsewhere in the bank to grow its capabilities and narrow its response time.
“We’re nimble enough in our size, with a client base in the hundreds,” Johnston, a senior vice president of commercial banking, said. “It enables us to have messaging within our team that’s consistent, and we can manually go in and enter all of our clients’ information for the SBA in a manner that’s consistent.”
Johnston identified communication as another strength of Highlands’ approach. “From the very beginning, our SBA manager, Kim Storey, participated in three to five educational updates per day, including webinars and teleconferences, so that we could communicate with our customers and let them know what we knew via seminars and emails hosted by Highland,” Johnston told Business Insider. “We put a priority on getting the answers out.”
Highlands’ approach had results, as well. “Our program rolled out on Friday and we literally had Heather’s company approved on Saturday morning,” Johnston said.