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Your OlyFed

Local Economics Above the Bottom Line

By: Carrie Whisler, SVP, Chief Credit Officer

A little over a year ago private sector jobs surpassed public sector jobs as the main providers of income in Thurston County. Moreover, of those businesses, 51% had less than 100 employees, meaning small enterprise entrepreneurs drive our local economy.

Five years ago, OlyFed saw this growing opportunity to serve the needs of small businesses as more and more of our customers began asking if they could open accounts and/or borrow funds for their small-scale firms. In response to these escalating needs, I was hired as OlyFed’s first business banker.

Fast forward to today and our team has built a robust operation supporting many of the storefronts you see around town and many you don’t because they’re based in a home office. When the pandemic struck our community and many local businesses closed or moved to limited operations, it was clear help was desperately needed.

Enter the federal government’s CARES Act and the Payment Protection Program (PPP) to aid in the prevention of layoffs and small business closures. We knew immediately we would participate in this SBA program because it was the right thing to do for the health and well-being of our community and local economy.

In most years, we do approximately 15 small business loans totaling around $2 million. In the first round of PPP funding, and in just 13 days, we closed 42 loans totaling $3.3 million! In this second round of funding, we’ve already closed another 47 loans totaling $1.56 million. That’s 89 loans worth more than $4.86 million in just a few months! More importantly, these loans helped retain more than 525 jobs in our community!

I recognize these dollars will only help temporarily; however, that’s all most entrepreneurs ever ask for… an opportunity to keep their ingenuity, dreams and passions alive. When you look at the establishment’s we funded, they are as diverse as our community representing nonprofit service providers, faith-based organizations, veterinary clinics, physicians, retail shops, restaurants, home builders, attorneys, consultants, hair salons, artists and many more.

Each of these businesses represents the life’s work of our neighbors and as the late Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen said, “Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people.” It’s what Banking that’s Mutual is all about. When you bank with OlyFed you have direct access to the person making decisions, which gives you more flexibility and someone you can hold accountable and trust in to help make solid decisions for you and your business.

The great American psychologist Frederick Herzberg once said, “the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements.” These are the values of local entrepreneurs and this is why OlyFed puts small business economics above the bottom line.

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