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Joe Zmitrovich, Bank of Clarke County Loan Officer

Featured Article

Your COMMUNITY Banker, Your New Best Friend

Article by Melinda Gipson

Photography by Celeste Linthicum

Originally published in Leesburg Lifestyle

In the mad scramble by businesses to tap the first installment of $349 billion in COVID-19 relief funding, not a single lender in the entire country had a loan approved faster than Bank of Clarke County. Joe Zmitrovich, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer – effectively the bank's senior loan officer – says his bank had its first loan approved by the Small Business Administration at 8:30 a.m. on April 3rd, the second the program opened. From that moment until the money ran out two weeks later, he and the dozens of banking personnel drafted into becoming loan officers worked tirelessly to get $73 million in potentially forgivable loans approved for 530 businesses.

Businesses who benefitted ranged from sole proprietors to one business with 462 employees. Companies with up to 500 employees were eligible for the assistance, which was targeted toward helping them keep their workers employed for the eight weeks, minimum, the economic shutdown was expected to last. Business owners who succeeded in tapping the first swath of funding, had one thing in common: they tapped a local or regional community bank for help. 

Eric Byrd, manager of Loudoun County’s Small Business Development Center, said he saw “true Herculean efforts by some of the community banks in our area. They got flooded with requests and processed hundreds and hundreds of applications, virtually overnight. We should celebrate all of our local lenders. They are doing a yeoman’s job and it’s very, very impressive.”

“We built our SBA task force in three days,” Joe recalls. He says the real key to Bank of Clarke County's success was its ability to automate the loan application process. Upon receiving a request for help, the bank first pushed out a PDF of the SBA application through DocuSign to have clients complete it. “We created a cover sheet for all the supporting information we needed, which the client submitted to us electronically, then we uploaded everything to ETRAN, the SBA portal for them.”

“It was all manual behind the scenes, but we streamlined the process for the client. We didn’t want to put them at risk by having them come in.” While the bank did prioritize its existing clients, it couldn’t turn away anyone in the community who needed help. “I would have to say that a majority of these people have committed to bring their business over,” he said, smiling. It’s not a smug smile at all, but one that seems almost wistful. “What we feel is a sense of duty to take care of our customers at this time, to do what we can do to calm their fears, and let them know we’ve got their backs.” By that, he means that the bank is there for its current borrowers as well.

Joe says that he and most of his community banking peers have a process in place for laid-off borrowers to defer payments for up to 90 days, just by asking. That's a period regulators have said can be automatically approved.

When asked what he thinks about the ability of our local economy to recover from the shutdown, he said, “The true tale will be told when everyone is back open for business. We’ll help them ramp up as much as we can, but I think it will be a slow climb until all the jobs are back.”

In the interim, Joe is braced for another crack at the second wave of Payroll Protection Program funding. “My main concern is helping businesses survive. We will worry about everyone else after that.”

  • Joe Zmitrovich, Bank of Clarke County Loan Officer