YOUR BUSINESS AUTHORITY
Although Central Bank of the Ozarks never set a goal to process over 1,600 Paycheck Protection Program loans over the past year, it’s a key accomplishment for the financial institution founded 65 years ago in Springfield.
President Joselyn Baldner says the two rounds of loans provided by the bank amid the coronavirus pandemic totaled roughly $150 million and impacted almost 19,000 employees.
“That was very much a point of pride for our employees to know that we were able to take care of so many local employees,” she says. “It was pretty emotional, honestly, to know you can have that kind of impact.”
The high level of PPP loan work took place amid administrative moves. Baldner was elected in January by the bank board as president and in April was also named CEO as part of a succession plan. She succeeded Russ Marquardt, who remains with the bank as board chairperson ahead of his planned phased retirement.
Baldner says the bank’s longtime philosophy remains: “One of the things that has always been very important to us is to help assist our local businesses. That’s really the foundation of who we are and how we were built, is on those business relationships and being able to take care of them.”
As the pandemic started last year, Central Bank employees who stayed home to care for their children were given 100% of base pay if unable to work from their residence. Leave for COVID-19 illnesses also was paid at 100%, Baldner says.
“It’s how we were able to take care of our employees,” she says. “We tried really hard to be flexible and understand everybody had a different situation but yet keep everybody safe.”
Community involvement remains a priority, as Central Bank has donated $2.2 million in the past three years to local civic groups, nonprofits and schools. Bank employees also are active in volunteerism, with Ozarks Food Harvest and United Way of the Ozarks among supported agencies.
Central Bank added to its Ozarks footprint with the opening of its 12th Springfield branch in May on East Sunshine Street – where the company has had development interest for over a decade. No additional branches are on the immediate horizon, but Baldner says the company is considering future investments as the retail banking landscape continues to evolve.
“The pandemic sped the migration to technology and digital,” she says. “We need to determine if there’s additional technologies we want to add to make it more convenient for customers.”
The first downtown Springfield branch for Arvest Bank opened; a longtime licensed massage therapist became a first-time business owner; and 7 Brew Coffee opened its fourth shop in Springfield.