From our CEO: A commitment to community growth

Now more than ever, UBT is invested in the businesses that are woven into the fabric of the communities we’re proud to serve.

December 17, 2020
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My family has been in the banking business since 1965. Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the communities we serve, as well as the country as a whole — but it’s not often that a single phenomenon comes along and changes the world as we know it.

The coronavirus pandemic has had such profound effects on the way we all live, work, and play. From implementing social distancing, cleaning protocols, and mask-wearing to watching businesses we know and love struggle to stay afloat, there’s hardly a corner of our communities that hasn’t been affected by this global pandemic. Through it all, though, I’m proud of the ways the Union Bank family has stepped up for our customers.

Paycheck Protection Program loans

As you know, the government’s Paycheck Protection Program relied heavily on banks to process loans that were vital to helping businesses in our communities keep their doors open and their employees paid. Dozens of associates pitched in amid very unusual circumstances (like setting up their workstations in their basements or laundry rooms) to process nearly 3,000 loans in a very short time.

What matters most to us is the messages we received from the companies we worked with for PPP loans, letting us know how their PPP money has supported them through this challenging time and kept their businesses afloat, from retailers to farmers to churches and beyond.  

The 1% More Pledge

In Lincoln, where the majority of our branches are located, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird created an Economic Recovery Task Force, of which I’m honored to serve as co-chair. One of the first measures undertaken by the Task Force is the 1% More Pledge, which was rooted in data gathered across the country — particularly some research done in Salt Lake City.

A survey of Salt Lake City businesses found that local retailers returned 52% of their revenue to the local economy through payments to local workers and spending on local goods, as compared to a 14% rate of return for chain retailers. For local restaurants, the rate of return was about 79%, compared to 30% for chain restaurants. Based on this data, shifting 1% of spending from national chains to local businesses in the Salt Lake City metro area would result in an injection of $50 million into the local economy each year. That’s huge!

With this information in mind, Mayor Gaylor Baird and the Economic Recovery Task Force created the 1% More Pledge, in which we asked business owners to join their peers in pledging to help Lincoln recover from the pandemic-driven recession by agreeing to spend 1% more locally in the 2021 calendar year. The hope is that by encouraging and incentivizing local community leaders to commit more of their resources to Lincoln businesses, the community’s economy will have a faster, smoother recovery.

Shop local challenge

Union Bank is proud to have signed the 1% More Pledge — and we’re working hard to involve all our associates in reaching this goal in Lincoln and beyond. To jump-start that commitment, I issued a challenge to our associates, asking them to shop and dine with local businesses this holiday season and track the businesses they supported throughout the holiday run-up. Each purchase they track equals an entry into a drawing for gift cards from locally owned shops and restaurants.

Originally, I set the challenge to end on November 30, but response has been overwhelmingly positive and I decided to extend the deadline to mid-December — by the middle of November, there were already 1,443 entries in the drawing, and that number continues to grow! I’m proud of our associates’ commitment to supporting the businesses that make our local landscape unique.

A contest like this is one great way to foster a buy-local atmosphere. I encourage you to give some thought to how your business and staff can also get creative and promote showing local businesses some love.

Proud to be local

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, it’s hard to tell who will be left standing and what the overall toll on our economy will be, both nationally and locally. But no matter what, through thick and thin, Union Bank is here to do whatever we can for the businesses and individuals who make our communities such wonderful places to live and work.

As a community bank, we know that our customers are much more than just customers: They’re our friends, our family members, our neighbors, and our beloved local businesses. At UBT, we like to say that people don’t have your money, your money has people — people who are there for you when the going gets tough and who are committed to weathering this storm together.

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