It takes courage and ingenuity to thrive in today’s world, and Utah’s business owners are demonstrating both qualities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many retail businesses were forced to shut down completely. Others were able to make big adjustments to keep business coming in, and their employees and customers safe at the same time. But as the months have progressed, we are encouraged to see Utah businesses gradually reopening with creative new business plans, procedures, products and services to meet the current needs of our community.

During this time, we’ve seen distilleries produce hand sanitizer instead of alcoholic beverages, and a band uniform company put their employees to work making masks for health care workers, instead of jackets. Struggling restaurants have gone to social media to ask their customers what they’d like to eat, and then updating their menus to accommodate. Grocery stores have innovated to protect their employees and customers with curbside pickup, delivery, shipping and special hours for seniors, and restaurants and other retailers have followed suit with some of these strategies. Online business services and package delivery are not just conveniences now, they’re essentials to business success.

During this unprecedented health crisis, we have learned that many businesses did not have the reserves to rely on during an extended time of crisis. So, we did our best to demonstrate our dedication to these struggling businesses by serving as listening ears, helping restructure loans, problem solving and facilitating the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans through the Small Business Administration, to help our businesses make payroll and keep going. Banks across the state and nation have played an important role in supporting the economy by processing nearly 4.5 million of these loans, with most of the $659 billion available already lent out to businesses to pay their employees during the pandemic.

According to a Bloomberg report, this emergency SBA program will cover a higher percent of eligible payroll in Utah than anywhere else in the country. Utah Bankers Association reports 71.3 percent of eligible Utah small businesses have received or have been approved for a loan. It warms our hearts to know that 23,000 Utahns have received or will receive a paycheck, from Bank of Utah’s effort in processing PPP loans in Utah. We thank our 300 plus employees who worked day and night to keep up with the high demand for these loans.

Business owner and manager, Howard Schmidt was one of our PPP Loan recipients who was able to keep people on the payroll for his Braemar Construction company and housing properties. “The PPP loan allowed us to avoid laying off employees,” he said. “I’ve had a long, excellent relationship with Bank of Utah, and they have been amazing. I really appreciate how hard Bank of Utah has worked to manage it.”

At this time, the Bank of Utah is still concerned about the bigger picture, which includes the health and wellbeing of all Utahns, the long-term sustainability of our homes, our businesses, our cities and towns, our state, our nation, and yes, the world.

We are grateful to Utah’s business community for its partnership in keeping Utah’s economy going during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporting the business community is a keystone of the banking industry in both good and tough times. Thriving businesses provide jobs for people in our communities, and in in turn, create revenue for local and state government to support schools, infrastructure, law enforcement and countless services for its citizens. And the generous donations of individuals and businesses provide funding for the hundreds of non-profits that fill the gaps for those in need.

Thank you, Utah. Keep up the good work! We can’t do it without you. Together, we are Utah.