I am not the first to observe that the pandemic has created a moment of truth for the nation’s companies. It’s an old adage that crisis brings out the best in some and the worst in others. This truism has always applied as equally to companies as it does to people, though today it may be easier to see. We’ve all watched true characters come through as we face this shared crisis.
At Bremer, we’ve taken the moment to double down on who we are and why we’re here: Founded on the belief that banks should be there for communities in good times and bad, with a stated and closely held purpose of cultivating thriving communities, we’ve let these values light the way for the decisions we’ve made and how we move forward.
Our customers are our partners, and we’re committed to serving them today more than ever.
As the importance of social distancing became clear, we chose to temporarily suspend lobby service while continuing to welcome customers to our drive-thrus and offer our full menu of financial service products through modified means – including ATMs, night deposit boxes, and online and mobile banking apps – as safe, efficient ways we continue to support and serve them. We’re also offering assistance for those in need of financial assistance as a result of COVID-19, including suspended or reduced mortgage payments, consumer loan deferrals or extensions, cashflow assistance loans, halted foreclosure activity, and more. Bremer is an SBA Preferred Lender, and we’ve worked hard to ensure as many people as possible have access to Small Business Administration resources.
Our employees are integral.
Our team’s ability to work is vital to our customers and contributes to the health of communities throughout our footprint. Ensuring each of our employees have the resources to be safe and healthy and has been and remains critically important. That’s why we’ve continued to temporarily close our lobbies and take other actions to safeguard the health of our frontline employees. We also remain committed to paying all our employees during this time and continue to pay the weekly bonus we instituted for our branch personnel as they take the most risk in serving our customers. Offering our employees access to additional financial support has also been top of mind, and so in March we established an employee assistance fund for Bremer employees adversely impacted by COVID-19. While our employees will continue to be compensated, we learned that household incomes have been affected due to layoffs or furloughs within families.
In April, we rolled out a company-wide bonus to all our employees, encouraging them to create a sort of mini-stimulus by spending it in their local communities or donating it to organizations responding to the pandemic.
Our communities are our past, present and future.
These are the places where we grew up, work and call home. True to the Bremer brand, many of our employees have asked how they can support communities in need. In response, Bremer established a special giving campaign to support the United Way – a long-time Bremer partner who makes an impact in nearly every community we serve, and who is currently leading COVID-19 response and recovery efforts throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. Every dollar a Bremer employee donates to their local United Way through this giving campaign will be matched 4-to-1 by Bremer Bank, further supporting each chapter’s neighborhoods, businesses, and families as we continue to fight and eventually pull through this outbreak, together.
Every day I witness our team making decisions and doing work to live our purpose, exhibit our values, and make tremendous impact. I hold steadfast in my belief that Bremer remains critically important for all the constituents we serve. Today’s situation is unlike any other, and I can say with conviction and pride that Bremer’s team is here to meet it.