Alyssa K. Foust
UBT Maintains Commitment to Community in Times of Crisis
The COVID-19 crisis turned the world on its head. While businesses across sectors struggled to adapt, Nebraska-based, family-owned Union Bank & Trust (UBT) demonstrated that staying committed to the communities it serves is critical to thriving in uncertain times. This commitment begins with its employees.
When there were rumblings of a pandemic as early as December 2019, UBT leadership was busy developing a plan that prioritized employee safety and minimized disruption. Within a week of the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions in the United States, eighty percent of the UBT workforce was working remotely, resulting in zero layoffs and no reduction in hours. Through early preparation and commitment to its employees, UBT was able to smoothly and successfully transition quickly to this “new normal.”
The COVID-19 crisis and related relief packages gave the Nebraska-based bank yet another opportunity to shine through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed and created a mad dash for funds last spring. In an effort to stay ahead of the curve, UBT began processing applications before most banks and quickly had processed the second highest number of applications in the country. During the first round of the PPP loan applications, UBT helped over 3,000 businesses get access to funds to keep them afloat, which meant keeping thousands of people employed and reducing the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on the community.
In addition to prioritizing employees and assisting local businesses, UBT immediately began rolling out efforts related to loan forgiveness and established loan programs for employees whose spouses lost their jobs due to COVID-19. UBT provided additional support to the community by establishing an online supply drive for nonprofit organizations and encouraged employees to give back. This culture of caring makes “UBT-ers” proud to work for a company that cares. By empowering employees to make a difference, even in times of crisis, UBT expanded its COVID-19 impact through its employees donating blood, making and donating masks, and writing cards and messages to essential workers.
UBT has long been committed to giving back. Through established relationships with community leaders and philanthropic organizations, UBT keeps a pulse on the needs of its community members and is quick to respond. In consultation with twenty nonprofit organizations, UBT launched a financial literacy program to provide support and offer classes to the community based on its expertise. UBT continued these efforts throughout the pandemic and moved classes online with the hope of offering them to a wider audience.
UBT’s dedication has persisted despite challenges presented by COVID-19 and, in response to the growing problem of predatory lending and payday loans, UBT rolled out a micro loan program last spring. UBT partnered with three nonprofit organizations, allowing them to provide additional services to the communities they serve. The program helps individuals learn how to establish a good credit history and includes classes on budgeting and managing money. As with the financial literacy program, UBT is leveraging its expertise to provide unique services to meet the needs of the community. Jill Mlinar, Community Outreach Officer at UBT, shared that “the employees that are helping with this are all excited to be involved and…[t]hey can’t wait to see the impact.”
UBT is a shining example of what it means to “do well by doing good” and has shown that by staying committed to its employees and the communities it serves it is possible to Do Good and Thrive, even in times of crisis.