Alison Hero thought she was ready for the pandemic. She prepared an updated menu on a new online ordering system for her restaurant, Silverwater Café, in the small Washington state town of Port Townsend, with a goal of creating to-go, family-style meals. Like many, Hero assumed the pandemic might lead to a month of temporary closure.
April came and went, followed by what was typically the beginning of a bustling tourist season in the Victorian-era seaport on the Olympic Peninsula. Hero’s savings were fast disappearing, and she was operating at a loss. Tearful, she started hanging “Thank you for 31 years” signs in the cafe’s windows.
Then, the phone rang. Candice Cotterill, Hero’s personal banker at 1st Security Bank, a community bank with a Port Townsend branch as well as 20 other local branches including Overlake, was on the line. Over Zoom meetings, Cotterill showed Hero and her business partner how to apply for the PPP loans. She maintained constant phone contact as the loan process moved forward, and later, when she filed the application for forgiveness, Cotterill was there to guide her through that process. The restaurant reopened in early 2021.
“I felt like she had my best interests at heart,” Hero says. “PPP saved us, and we wouldn’t be here without that bank.”
The personal touch
That first-name basis, personal concern and community spirit leads many business owners to community banking. Community banks provide consumer checking and savings, business banking and home loans to customers, but primarily within the local area served, and often, with a more personal touch.
Most community banks have a deeper understanding of the unique financial needs in their home territories, resulting in close, long-term customer relationships.
“We get the feeling that 1st Security Bank employees are looking out for everyone else’s best interests,” says Mari Mullen, executive director of the nonprofit Port Townsend Main Street Program. “Community banks, in general, excel in customer service.” Mullen adds, “Going local is a key message, and we all share a passion for wanting people to be prosperous and thrive here.”
Many bank employees even double as enthusiastic community event volunteers like Ray Perales, 1st Security’s Assistant Manager in the bank’s Overlake branch, and his staff. 1st Security Bank participates in holiday programs and assists with other local nonprofits’ events and fundraisers. The financial institution donated over $200,000 to food banks in their branch footprint last year, including Redmond’s Renewal Food Bank.
At 1st Security Bank of Washington, we take a customized and personal approach to your financial well-being. We live in the communities we serve, so our 21 branches offer tailored solutions to their communities. We believe relationships make the difference, and that sets 1st Security Bank apart.