Columbia Bank lends nearly $1 billion through Paycheck Protection Program

Columbia Bank, the wholly owned subsidiary of Columbia Banking System, Inc. (NASDAQ: COLB) (“Columbia”), recently announced that it has funded nearly $1 billion in loans to more than 4,400 small businesses through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The loans will provide relief for more than 70,000 workers throughout the Northwest that have been affected by the economic fallout from COVID-19.

Columbia plans to allocate $1 million to fund two new community support initiatives – Pass it On Project for Small Business Recovery and COVID-19 Community Relief Campaign – to support small business and community recovery efforts in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

“Putting $1 million to work through important small business and community initiatives will help our communities navigate the road to recovery,” said Columbia’s CEO Clint Stein. “Our communities were some of the first hit by the pandemic and to experience its economic impact. As such, we feel it is important to provide additional support for our region beyond the relief resulting from our PPP efforts.”

Pass it On Project for Small Business Recovery
Columbia’s new Pass it On Project aims to put small businesses throughout the Northwest back to work with a focus on those struggling the most. Through this program, Columbia will pay small businesses more than $500,000 to perform services for people whose lives have been adversely impacted by the pandemic or the economic downturn it caused. Services being offered range from food deliveries and home maintenance to dental work and auto body repair. The bank expects to reach more than 350 small businesses and many more individuals and families in the Northwest through the Pass it On Project initiative.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, and we know that by helping them survive and thrive, we are supporting local economies and jobs for everyone in our region,” said Chris Merrywell, Columbia’s executive vice president and COO. “We hope our Pass it On Project will inspire others in our communities to do what they can to help our small businesses recover.”

COVID-19 Community Relief Campaign
Columbia will distribute more than $500,000 to 25 organizations across the Pacific Northwest that are working to provide relief to those affected by COVID-19. Organizations receiving contributions represent all counties with Columbia Bank operations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Contributions will support response funds specific to COVID-19 and community development funds that provide support to small businesses.

“Thanks to the leadership and contributions from businesses like Columbia Bank, we are able to rapidly deploy philanthropic dollars to Oregonians in the greatest need,” said Max Williams, CEO and president of Oregon Community Foundation. “Together, we are working to help revitalize our communities at this very critical time of need.” 

To further support Northwest communities, Columbia has also released restrictions on more than $3 million dollars that it provides to Northwest nonprofit organizations each year. Releasing the restrictions will allow organizations to redirect the funds toward other efforts focused on COVID-19 response programs right now.  

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.