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SBA Lender of the Year

It took an independent community bank to earn the State of Mississippi’s first honor as a National Lender of the Year as named by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Mendenhall-based Peoples Bank has been selected by the SBA to receive their Small 7(a) Lender award. This national award is presented to lenders that have used SBA loan programs to help the maximum number of small business owners obtain needed financing to grow their businesses.

In 2010, Peoples Bank employed the America’s Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) provisions of 90 percent guarantees, fee waivers, and America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) loans to reach beyond its customer base. As such, they were able to make loans to customers associated with other banks that had declined to make SBA-backed loans during the recession that began in late 2008. “By doing so, Peoples Bank provided a tremendous community service,” said Janita R. Stewart, SBA’s District Director in Mississippi. “There are many small businesses operating today that would not have survived without their help and with SBA’s backing.”

While the ARC program was a successful investment for Peoples Bank, it did not define the limits to which the bank worked to provide SBA loans for area business owners. “In our role as a true community bank, we work diligently every day to create loan solutions which meet the needs of business owners and to identify the best loan resource to meet those needs,” said Dennis Ammann, President and CEO of Peoples Bank. “Often, processing an SBA loan works to our customers’ best advantage and we remain a major SBA lender in Mississippi and throughout the region.”

Peoples Bank, a family-owned institution with five locations, ranked fourth nationally in ARC loans for the number of America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) loans administered. The bank, whose slogan is “Mississippi’s Main Street Bank,” ranked slightly behind J.P. Morgan Chase Bank and Wells Fargo which are significantly larger banks. Their efforts spawned national media attention as “The Little Bank that Could” and the bank was featured twice on ABC’s Evening News by anchorwoman Dianne Sawyer.

“We are humbled to have been named a national honoree by the SBA,” said Ammann, who has guided Peoples Bank as its chief executive since 2009. “But of greater satisfaction to us is that we had the capacity, the ability and the commitment to serving our customers and even customers who had traditionally banked elsewhere. During the economic downturn, we believed it to be important to remain a viable, active and responsive lender for businesses which needed funding. This award is a testament to the ingenuity and hard work of our hometown bankers, who went above and beyond the norm in looking for ways to help our customers during this difficult economic time.”

Locally, Peoples Bank became the “top loan volume” lender in Mississippi providing 326 SBA loans to small businesses for over $20.7 million. Their volume in lending enabled the Mississippi SBA District to rank 2nd in the nation behind Minnesota in ARC loan lending.

Small 7(a) Lender Award nominees are selected by SBA Headquarters Office of Financial Assistance based upon loan data provided by SBA’s Office of Credit Risk Management (OCRM). Evaluation and selection criteria for this award include: An outstanding loan portfolio with an SBA share of $100 million or less; Growth in approval volume for the previous fiscal year; Growth in underserved markets (defined as African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, rural, women and veterans) for previous year; and the lender must have a satisfactory OCRM Risk Rating. Additional points are given to lenders who utilize numerous SBA loan programs.

Peoples Bank will be presented the award during the 2011 National Small Business Week, May 16-20, in Washington, DC. Peoples Bank will also be recognized locally during the Mississippi SBA’s 2011 Small Business Awards event scheduled June 14th at the Mississippi e-Center in Jackson, MS.

“We’re proud of our lenders who worked to earn this honor,” Ammann said. “Each of our loan professionals has made an extraordinary effort to serve small businesses in rural markets; a group traditionally ignored by Wall Street banks. As the first Mississippi bank to win this award, Peoples Bank has proven once again that ‘bigger isn’t always better’. Banks such as Peoples Bank often have the flexibility to utilize SBA programs the regional banks don’t have or in which they have little interest in participating.”


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