The Bank of Jackson Hole, the community’s longest-running locally operated bank, prides itself on its ties with the community.
Juan Hernandez, a loan officer at the bank, was born and raised in Jackson. The clients he works with aren’t just strangers — they live in the same neighborhoods, went to the same schools and shop at the same grocery stores.
When COVID-19 hit and quarantine orders ensued, countless local businesses that relied on brick-and-mortar locations and face-to-face interaction were left in an impossibly difficult economic bind. Amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, Hernandez and his colleagues were working hard to try and find solutions for their clients.
The economic barriers seemed almost insurmountable but then the Paycheck Protection Program entered the picture. It was a timely blessing for the Jackson small business community.
The PPP, administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Secretary of the Treasury, was created to provide small businesses with a financial windfall so they can stay in business without having to lay off their workers.
The week the loan program went live, Hernandez and his co-workers would regularly stay at the bank until 8 or 9 p.m. to help clients secure their loans. The bank processed approximately 700 loans through the program — the overwhelming majority of them local — with an average loan amount of about $135,000.
“It was all hands on deck,” he said. “Since our lobbies were closed, even the tellers and personal bankers had to help out and sort through documents.”
The long hours are a testament to the work ethic of the bank and the care it has for the community it serves. The bank’s CEO Pete Lawton spoke with pride about the hard work his employees did to help clients secure loans. To Lawton, it speaks to the bank’s inherent strength as a local business.
“We have a senior staff that has been working in this community for more than 20 years,” he said.
For Hernandez, it was heartening to see his work have a tangible, positive effect in his community.
“We get emails every other day about how grateful people are, how we helped businesses keep their door open,” he said. “At the end of it all, that’s what made it all worth it.”