Small business owner praises Miss. bank for helping keep its doors open

Small business owner praises Miss. bank for immediately securing federal loans to keep doors open

RIDGELAND, Miss. (WLBT) - A Mississippi bank is praised on CNBC and getting rave reviews from its customers for helping them navigate the process of staying afloat.

While many small business owners have run into roadblocks trying to obtain loans, Renasant Bank clients say they reached out to them when millions became available from the federal government.

Bowen Eason owns the Livingston Mercantile Store and The Gathering Restaurant in Livingston.

He was forced to close the restaurant and furlough 25 of his 44 employees when the pandemic hit.

But he plans to reopen the restaurant Tuesday because Renasant Bank guided him through the process to get in the Payroll Protection Program or PPP.

It is a SBA federal loan through the CARES Act.

“As soon as the light switch went out, Renasant reached out to me, walked me through the entire process,” said Eason. “We were able to get our application in the very first day”.

The CARES Act offered $349 billion for small businesses for payroll costs, rent and utilities. That funding was depleted the first week.

"We've been able to keep all of our existing clients that have qualified plus bring in new relationships to the bank," said Renasant Bank Central MS President Raymond Van Norman.

At the start of the outbreak his company developed a process that has resulted in over 11,000 applicants receiving more than $1.5 billion.

“We look at that, of saving over 100,000 jobs, and that means everything to these small businesses and that’s why we’ve taken it so seriously,” said Van Norman.

Those jobs translate into Eason being able to rehire 35 employees.

His restaurant reopening also allows him to return to buying fresh produce from local farmers, keeping them in business.

According to Van Norman, Phase 2 of the CARES Act still has $182 billion available to small business owners needing to stay in business.

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