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A Small Business PPP Story

New York City has long been known as a national and international artistic beacon. While the numerous theatres, museums, concert halls, and galleries are the lifeblood of our city, there are also, behind the scenes, hundreds of small businesses that help make our city’s arts scene the best in the world. Chelsea Restoration Associates Inc. is one of those small businesses whose work you may have seen without even knowing it.

Founded in 2004 by John Powell and Amy Sokoloff, Chelsea Restoration is one of New York City’s premier art restoration and conservation studios. They restore and preserve fine paintings that are exhibited in our city’s finest museums, galleries, and dealerships–and they do it from right here in the Bronx!

“It doesn’t matter if the work of art is a family heirloom or something you bought at the flea market, we will restore it,” explains Amy. “We work on paintings that range from $100 to $20 million.”

When COVID-19 hit, the arts were devastated. Without the ability to open venues, artists and the organizations that support them were forced to adapt to a new reality. We are proud to have helped Chelsea Restoration­ during this challenging moment for our city’s arts community with a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.

“I am extremely thankful to Spring Bank,” says John. “When the pandemic began, our business flatlined. We did not know how we were going to get through it. But then Spring Bank came along, and they answered all of our calls and emails. Whatever we needed, they were there. Thanks to them, we secured two rounds of PPP funding.”

Before coming to us, Chelsea Restoration tried to get assistance from a large financial institution but was ignored. Small businesses often are. But not with us. As a community bank, we exist to provide personalized and affordable services to all individuals, small businesses and nonprofits.

“We knew that adapting to the pandemic was going to be difficult because so much of our work cannot be done remotely,” says Amy. “But the PPP loan gave us the time to do that. We pivoted to host client consultations and meetings virtually which allowed us to continue our work safely.”

“But it went beyond that,” she continues. “Securing the PPP loan gave us the flexibility to automate a lot of our business processes. Rather than managing our inventory and payroll manually, we can now do it automatically. The benefits will outlast the pandemic because we’ll be able to serve more clients.”

And now, Chelsea Restoration can rehire and employ more people.

“Before the pandemic started, we hired an NYU intern who moved home because of the lockdowns,” says John. “The PPP loan enabled us to hire her back; it prevented one less artist from leaving New York City.”

We know the arts are what make New York City so vibrant and unique. We are proud to have helped when the pandemic disproportionately impacted this vital industry. If you are interested in learning more about how we support the arts, check out our work with the Bronx Museum of the Arts. You can also read more about our PPP lending work here.

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Throughout the pandemic, we have helped dozens of small businesses and organizations across New York City acquire loans to keep their doors open. But you don’t have to wait until the next emergency to build a relationship with us–your local community bank. You can secure the future of your small business now by opening a business checking account with us today.

When you bank with us, we get to know you; we seek to understand your needs and aspirations. Every day we see how small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Across New York City, small businesses maintain the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of working families. But we also know that for a small business, success is not only measured in profits. Having a business checking account with us will give you firsthand access to our personalized approach. We’ll help you secure the funds you may not have access to from a traditional financial institution. And when the next crisis hits, we’ll do our best to help you secure the funds you need to keep your doors open and your employees on the books.

Our business checking account features make it easy for you to get your money when you want it and when you need it. When you open a business checking account with us, you can access free ATMs in the MoneyPass network and Citibank branches. You also have 24/7 access to your money from wherever you are with our mobile app and online banking options. You can even open a business account online. It’s convenient, and it’s safe. And if you run into any issues, give our team a call. With us, you’re never a number; you’re our neighbor.

Our zero-maintenance fee business checking account helps you avoid the time and money you would lose addressing surprise costs associated with your business checking account at a larger financial institution. When you bank with a community bank like us, you’re our priority. Our business checking account puts the community in a community bank. We give you the space to focus on what matters, managing your business and making an impact on your neighborhood. Merely putting your hard-earned money in our business checking account, you are giving back to your community.

When you bank with us, your money is invested locally, contributing to your community’s economic growth by helping other small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals get access to the loans they need. If you would like to support our mission in other ways, you can open a personal checking account or personal savings account today. We’d love to have you.  Read more about our work with small businesses here.

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Having a bank account­– whether it’s a business checking account or a personal savings account­–is critical to maintaining a healthy financial life. The economic downturn combined with the health crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a reminder of the importance of having financial and physical health. With our remote banking feature, you don’t have to make that choice.

Your health and safety are our top priority. Whether it’s over the phone, online, or through our mobile app, you can access our financial products from wherever you are. While we must reduce our social interactions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with our expanded remote banking features, you don’t have to delay making important financial decisions or getting access to the money you need.

Remotely accessing your personal checking account can help make this difficult time easier. As Tax Day approaches and Congress prepares to issue another round of stimulus checks, having a bank account can help you get quicker and safer access to the economic relief you need. Checks can get lost and can take weeks to arrive. When managing money is essential, using direct deposit and our remote banking features can help you pay for ongoing expenses and save for the future.

One of our biggest priorities is encouraging our community members to increase their personal savings to become financially independent. When you can open a bank account or access our services from wherever you are, you save on transportation expenses. Additionally, you don’t have to take time off work to start building wealth and reaching your financial goals. Our built-in flexibility is designed to meet you where you are and to help you attend to financial matters instantly.

Whether it’s in person or remote, our banking staff is personable and experienced. Once we activate your account, you can deposit checks securely from your phone or tablet while on the move or from the comfort of your own home.

Businesses can deposit up to $5,000, and individual customers can deposit up to $1,000. If you would like to increase your deposit limits, don’t hesitate to ask us. In addition to ATMs in the Moneypass network, via our partnership with Citibank, Spring Bank clients can use any ATM within a Citibank branch for free. Regardless of where you live, know that we have something for you.

We are providing services and products that meet all of our customers’ needs. Whether it be online or on the phone, know that we are here for you. Call or download our app. We’ll help you apply for a personal loan or open a new business bank account. We have one of the best savings account online. Find out how we can help you today!

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A few weeks into 2021, and as President Joe Biden reminded us in his inaugural speech, we have hard work ahead of us. With businesses shuttered, hospitals overwhelmed, and streets empty, and as we confront this winter wave of COVID-19, hope can feel distant. And yet, there is much to look forward to and much to fight for.

As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) dedicated to financial inclusion, we are ready to meet this moment. Together with the 80 + members of the NYS CDFI Coalition, we are working to ensure that people across New York state receive the financial relief and tools to navigate this difficult time. But beyond our work on the frontlines of the pandemic, there are many reasons to bank with CDFI like us. Here are three of those reasons:

  1. Access to Flexible Lending Terms & Affordable Rates
    At large-financial institutions, customers must provide high credit scores and a large minimum balance to qualify for services, effectively barring people with lower incomes, many of whom are people of color. At a CDFI, someone lacking a healthy credit score or thousands of dollars in savings can get access to the financial system without having to pay exorbitant fees. CDFIs offer financially healthy and credit-building alternatives to the people who need them most by providing flexibility and customized banking products according to our local communities’ needs.
  2. Direct Community Investment & Impact
    Unlike mainstream financial institutions that prioritize shareholders, CDFIs prioritize the economic needs of local neighborhoods. As mission-driven organizations (both for-profit and nonprofit), CDFIs leverage money to support community development like small business lending, small-dollar consumer lending, and affordable housing lending for people and organizations excluded by big banks because of factors like systemic racism and redlining. We have a triple-bottom-line, meaning that we measure success by the health of our community and environment. When you bank with us, you know your dollars are invested back into New York City.
  3. Relationships Matter Most
    Large financial institutions often overlook small businesses, startups, and nonprofits because they can’t offer products with a high-risk factor. CDFIs provide hands-on services that allow them to evaluate small businesses and nonprofits as a whole, starting with a relationship with the entrepreneurs and community leaders. Our holistic approach enables us to create customized products that address the specific needs of vital institutions in excluded communities and, in doing so, support their sustainability.

We are proud to be a CDFI and the first to headquarter in the Bronx. With or without a pandemic, we will continue to fight the racial and economic disparities it has magnified. By opening a personal savings account or business checking account with us, you help support our mission. To learn more about what we do, read our 2020 Reflection. You can also check our blogs about our involvement in the Bank for Good movement and our community-first culture. Apply for a personal loan today!

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For the last fourteen years, we have worked tirelessly to provide affordable financial products that enhance economic opportunity for all people in New York City. Soon after we became the first bank headquartered in The Bronx, we obtained federal certification as a Community Development Financial Institution or CDFI. This designation means that over 60 percent of CDFI lending services target people with lower incomes, including communities like ours in the Bronx.

In receiving this certification, we joined a network of over a thousand banks, credit unions, and nonprofits community lenders dedicated to assisting communities typically excluded—because of systemic racism and other reasons—to join the economic mainstream. Since the CDFI Fund and Department of Treasury awarded us the designation in 2012, we have joined forces with 80+ CDFIs in New York state to ensure that historically excluded residents, small businesses, and nonprofits receive the financial services they need. We were even one of the founding board members when the NYS CDFI Coalition became a nonprofit organization.

More than ever, the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of the CDFI movement. When the Small Business Administration first implemented the Paycheck Protection Program in Spring 2020, the overwhelming amount of PPP Loans went to white-owned businesses and large corporations.

To assure more vulnerable minority-owned small businesses receive PPP lending, on May 28, 2020, the Treasury Department and SBA set aside $10B of emergency lending exclusively for CDFIs to distribute. The program was a resounding success. A subset of the CDFI network (303 CDFIs) made 106,113 PPP loans valued at $7.4B in less than three months. We are honored to have contributed to this effort. In 2020, our lending team secured PPP loans–valued at $86.8M–for small businesses and nonprofits in the New York City area. And we are excited to do it again. The new COVID-19 relief package includes $284B for additional lending to eligible businesses. It seems Congress learned its lesson 😊

To learn more about the impacts of our PPP loan program and CDFIs, check out our work with organizations like Ultranauts, Callen Lorde Community Center, Grant Street Settlement, and The Forward. Read a summary of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic here

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A 2020 Letter of Reflection & Gratitude

When we first headquartered in the Bronx, our mission was clear: to create a world where all people have equal access and opportunity to build prosperous futures. Fifteen years later, amidst a global pandemic and focus on racial justice, our mission and banking approach is more relevant than ever.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our city and unleashed dual health and economic crises, we saw our community’s needs, and we got to work. All year, our team worked tirelessly to address our community’s financial needs. Our efforts would not have been possible if it weren’t for our incredible staff, our community, and small business partners, our B-Corp community, and most of all, you.

Thank you for being a part of our community.

2020 Reflections
To say that 2020 has been a tough year is an understatement. We know many of you have faced challenges you never expected. Us too. But thankfully, we have one another. This year has shown us why our work—and that of community banks and CDFI’s are so important for low-income communities, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations that are too often overlooked by financial institutions. We prioritize our neighbors.

After the CARES Act passed in April of this year, our lending team got to work to assist organizations with their applications for a Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan.

We take great pride in having secured 360 PPP loans–valued at $86.8 million–for small businesses and nonprofits in the New York City area. With these funds, organizations retained over thousands of jobs. In total, we secured PPP loans for 53 nonprofits valued at $35 million, funding that they otherwise may not have received if they had looked to a larger bank.

For example, we secured financial relief for Ultranauts, a company that mainly employs autistic workers for jobs in the technology sector. We supported The Forward, one of New York’s oldest Jewish media publications, and many others. Our lending team worked hard to make sure that value-aligned small businesses and community-based organizations could not only stay afloat but continue to support the needs of their communities, too.

In addition to our PPP lending program, we partnered with Eileen Fisher Inc., a fellow B Corp, to help them provide relief for their furloughed employees at the height of the lockdown. We customized our Employee Opportunity Loan program to meet their specific needs, which allowed them to act quickly to stay present.

In these uncertain times, we remain committed to New York City’s financial inclusion—and your financial health. We are humbled by the outpouring of support and gratitude from our community, and we draw so much inspiration from your ingenuity, hard work, and resilience. In this season of reflection and generosity, we want to extend one more heartfelt thank you. Together, we will continue to make New York City the best city in the world.

Check out the article about Ultranauts in The New York Times. Read about our work with organizations like Callen Lorde Community CenterGrand Street Settlement, and The Forward. Read more about our PPP lending program.

Thank you for your partnership and business. We wish you a very happy and healthy 2021!

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We are committed to a world where all people have equal access and opportunity to build prosperous futures. And when we say all people, we mean everyone, even those who don’t bank with us.

As the climate crisis causes temperatures to rise and extreme weather becomes more common, the impacts will affect everyone.  Financial institutions that finance fossil fuels bear immense responsibility. Did you know that the four largest banks in the United States poured more than $210 billion into fossil fuel projects in 2019 alone? That’s why—as a carbon-neutral, B Corp community bank, we immediately said yes to the invitation to join a national movement of banks who recognize together their responsibility to address the climate crisis. You can feel secure with us and with any member of the Bank for Good campaign, that your money is a solution, not a contributor to the climate crisis and will not be invested in fossil fuels.

We view our commitment to climate justice as a racial justice issue, as underserved communities of color, communities like those we serve, are disproportionately impacted. The Bank for Good campaign was our opportunity to join with like-minded financial institutions to create a new narrative for banking that aligns with our values.

Paul Philips, District Manager of Community Board 4–the neighborhood of our headquarters in The Bronx– recognizes how banks can be a tool for good.  Ninety-six percent of the people in Community Board 4 are minorities, and the average income is $29,000 a year.  And as a result of COVID-19, he has witnessed long lines of people waiting outside check cashiers to get the money they need to pay for existing expenses.

“Now more than ever, we need financial institutions like Spring Bank,” says Paul Philips. “We need local banks that serve low-income minority communities, especially small businesses.”

According to Paul Philips, only 2 percent of small businesses in The Bronx received any federal PPP lending dollars via the CARES Act due to COVID-19. He believes this is precisely why community banks are essential to building a financially inclusive society.

“Banks that are rooted in the community are so important; they will actually advocate on behalf of communities of color,” says Paul Philips.

As one of the few community banks in The Bronx, New York, we are proud to support small businesses and communities of color as we Bank for Good. Learn more by reading about our commitment to our community during COVID-19.

Ready to join us in the movement to Bank for Good? Move your money with us and open a Green Checking Account or apply for a personal loan today! We can help your small business grow by opening a business checking account. And you can feel good about your role in ending the climate crisis, knowing your hard-earned dollars are invested locally, right back into the best city in the world. Read more about the Bank for Good campaign.

Photo Credit: Ultranauts, NY Times

As a mission-driven, community-based bank, we prioritize our neighbors and the unique financial needs of the Bronx and Harlem. Since the day we opened our doors in the South Bronx over thirteen years ago, we have been grateful for the partnership of many small businesses and values-aligned organizations, including some of New York City’s oldest and most reputable nonprofits.

When COVID-19 hit, we responded by supporting our small business and nonprofit partners when they needed it most. Hours after the CARES Act passed in April of this year, our lending team got to work to assist organizations with their applications for a Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan.

We are proud to report that as of this month, we secured 360 PPP loans–valued at $86.8 million–for small businesses and nonprofits in the New York City area.  With these funds, organizations retained over 5,000 jobs.

 At the height of the lockdown, we helped Callen Lorde Community Center– a primary care center dedicated to serving the LGBTQ and homeless communities–secure a PPP loan that allowed them to continue their critical work on the frontlines of New York City’s battle against COVID-19. Our partnership helped them retain 80 of their employees, all while running a temporary hospital out of a hotel in Queens.

Additionally, our lending team supported other major nonprofits organizations like Grand Street Settlement–a social services agency that helps thousands of New Yorkers–and The Forward–one of New York’s oldest Jewish media publications. In total, we secured PPP loans for 53 nonprofits valued at $35 million, funding that they otherwise may not have received if they had gone to a larger bank.

But we didn’t stop there. We also partnered with values-aligned companies that are revolutionizing the business world. We take particular satisfaction in our work with Ultranauts, a company that mainly employ autistic workers for technology jobs.

With 75 percent of its workforce on the autistic spectrum, Ultranauts uses a unique set of operational policies and practices. Recently featured in The New York Times, their remote work model and unique accommodations have become a model for businesses looking to foster inclusion. And yet, pivoting to 100 percent remote working could not shield them from the economic downturn caused by the global pandemic. Ultranauts lost business as their clients made cuts to cope with the impact. To cover these unexpected costs, they partnered with us to secure a PPP loan that allowed them to adapt to the changing market, and soon, they were flourishing once again. Ultranaut acquired new clients and has plans to expand its workforce from 90 to 200 employees in the next two years.

We are proud to support organizations that, like us, are working to build an economy that includes and nurtures every individual’s talents. We are proud to help small businesses and nonprofits continue their work during this historic time.

If your small business or nonprofit requires financial support during this time, we can help you secure a lending option that best suits your organization. Do not hesitate to contact us at 718-879-5000. And we can set up a small business checking account or a nonprofit checking account so that you keep your money local, investing in communities in New York City that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out the article about Ultranauts in The New York Times. Read about our work with Callen Lorde Community Center, Grand Street Settlement, and The Forward. Open a small business checking account today.

As a mission-driven, community-based bank, we prioritize our neighbors and the unique financial needs of the Bronx and Harlem. Since the day we opened our doors in the Bronx over thirteen years ago, we have been grateful for the partnership of many values-aligned organizations, including some of New York City’s oldest and most distinguished nonprofits. So when COVID-19 hit our city, we had the privilege of supporting many of our nonprofit partners when they needed it most.

We are here to offer the same personalized service to your organization. Our nonprofit program provides free checking accounts with customized services that will help you support your mission. With remote deposit capture, you can take advantage of our cost savings and benefits without leaving your home. You can also use our online banking service, which gives you the ability to manage money online for your organization with your mobile device or computer. You receive all of these easy-to-use banking tools for your organization without having to pay maintenance fees!

Our maintenance-free, nonprofit checking account option is a part of our broader mission to help nonprofits launch and grow. On top of offering nonprofits free checking accounts, we also have a specialized nonprofit lending program. And we love to showcase the great stories and impact of our nonprofit partners as we believe our collective impact is a crucial part of rebuilding an economy that includes all of us.

Open a nonprofit checking account online today or contact us at 718-879-5000 for more information. We also invite you to read about how our nonprofit services have helped local organizations like DreamYard and The Hope Program.

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At Spring Bank–the first B Corp Bank in New York State–we provide products and services for businesses that help them grow while supporting their employees and communities.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend lives and livelihoods, our commitment to financial and community empowerment is stronger than ever. Keeping this in mind, New York City Businesses and Nonprofits can make this difficult time a little bit easier for employees through our Employee Opportunity Loan Program.

In June, we partnered with fellow New York B Corp,  Eileen Fisher Inc., and the Eileen Fisher Foundation, to customize our EOL program and, with the support of the foundation, to offer a financial helping hand to their employees who were furloughed at the start of the shut-down.

Our Employee Opportunity Loan Program provides access to capital and free financial counseling to help employers better support their employees in this unprecedented moment. Participating employers facilitate access to a small-dollar loan to bridge immediate gaps in cashflow while assisting them in building personal savings and credit for the future.

Employees can get small loans with no minimum credit score requirements and built-in saving and credit-building features. But it’s not just about helping individuals apply for a personal loan; we want to give them the tools for durable financial health.

Employees also have access to free financial counseling with our partners at Neighborhood Trust. Together with their financial counselors, employees can develop a plan to decrease their debt, increase their savings, improve their credit score, and work towards long-term goals.

To learn more about how you can support the financial health of your employees, read about our Employee Opportunity Loan Program. You can also read how we created the program with the Eileen Fisher Foundation on our blog. And stay tuned for our upcoming stories on some of the hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits we supported with PPP loans.

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