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Local helping local: small businesses and nonprofits assisted with a lifeline during COVID-19

Rochester Hills, MI - As the world faced a global pandemic, local businesses and nonprofit organizations faced a financial unknown. Small businesses faced possibly the worst effects of the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in Michigan, but one local credit union worked to help weather the storm. Chief Financial Credit Union, a small credit union headquartered in Rochester Hills, MI, spent countless hours guiding businesses and nonprofit organizations through Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, many of which had been turned away by their home banking institutions.

“We just knew we had to help, so it was decided that my role would completely pivot to field the PPP loan program,” said Ashley Werkmeister, Chief Financial Credit Union director of business development. “In a matter of weeks, we helped more than 50 businesses and nonprofits get approved for funding vital to keep paying their staff and survive this crisis.”

One nonprofit helped by Chief Financial Credit Union, Clinton River Watershed Council, applied for a PPP loan to assist with keeping their small team of 10 employed during and after the crisis.

“As a nonprofit, we were concerned that some of our regular revenue streams, including two events, were at risk due to the growing pandemic,” said Anne Brasie, Clinton River Watershed Council executive director. “We have seven full-time staff and three part-time staff. Chief Financial was patient with us and walked us through the entire process.”

“When we heard how businesses were struggling, we took steps to align with PPP loans so that we could start supporting them as soon as possible,” said Chief Financial President and CEO, Tom Dluzen. “When you’re a part of a community, the businesses struggling are your neighbors, your members, and your friends. Many came to us after being turned away from their financial institutions first. Saving jobs and keeping lights on is why we stepped up, and we are so grateful we were able to support so many local organizations.”

For Chief Financial and its team, "More than money" is not just a tagline. It is the company culture that Chief has created and the fuel that drives its mission.

“Working with Chief Financial though the COVID-19 pandemic was surreal,” said Jeremy Fishman, TreeRunner Adventure Parks vice president, business development and strategy. “They are one of the few organizations we have worked with that have been so caring and supportive that it almost feels as though times are normal. Our appreciation for Chief is tremendous!”