Joseph Tavares is a business officer/vice president at Rockland Trust Co. and his territory includes Rhode Island and the South Coast region of Massachusetts. Tavares works with small-business owners assisting with their banking needs. He has worked in the Rhode Island market since 1998 and has been in financial services for more than 17 years.
PBN: What has caused Rockland to “invest” in small businesses?
TAVARES: A hallmark of our customer-friendly approach is our commitment to the cities and town we serve. We realize that small businesses are the engine of our economy and keep our communities going. Small business owners face many challenges every day – from staffing to supplies and everything in between – they don’t have much time to diligently and thoroughly review their bank statements and see how much they’re actually paying in fees. As part of our dedication to helping small business owners, we recently launched the Service Fee Challenge to help educate and demonstrate how much they can save on debit, deposit, cash management and transaction fees, while also getting personalized, committed customer service.
PBN: How much could be saved in fees annually?
TAVARES: Every business customer is different, so it’s difficult to put a dollar figure on possible savings, but Rockland Trust typically saves most commercial and small business banking customers around 10 percent on their service fees annually. For some companies, this may be a few hundred dollars, for others a few thousand – and for some, even more. In tough economic times every dollar counts, which is something all business owners, no matter the size of their company, recognize.
PBN: Is Rockland looking at issuing more small-business loans or loosening current loan requirements or criteria?
TAVARES: We’ve always been committed to providing smart and responsible loans to our small business customers, which goes back to our dedication to our communities and our commitment to follow through on our promises to all customers. We’ve been named a ‘Top Commercial Lender’ by The Warren Group for two consecutive years and while many big banks have reduced lending or made it more challenging to secure a loan, we are working to help businesses of all sizes succeed and grow.
We are fortunate to have the bandwidth to finance large transactions, such as the recent $18 million refinancing of The Residences Providence. We’ve also provided smaller financing to several local businesses, including a $120,000 SBA loan to D&E Electric Inc., a Warwick-based company that acquired a building. As we continue to grow and expand in Rhode Island, we hope to have the opportunity to provide business solutions to our community partners, no matter their size.
PBN: Is the bank planning any other free offers this fall?
TAVARES: We focus on taking action on behalf of our customers. Most recently, we’re focused on educating the public about our low fees for both small business and commercial business banking customers. Our Service Fee Challenge, which runs through the end of the year, offers potential customers the opportunity to see how much they can save and, if Rockland Trust cannot save them at least 10 percent on service fees, we’ll pay them $100.
PBN: What else can businesses expect from Rockland Trust?
TAVARES: In addition to our new Service Fee Challenge, we also received $66 million in tax credits awarded by the federal government’s New Markets Tax Credit program. We’re looking for qualified businesses to lend to through this program which helps businesses grow and stimulates economic health in low-income communities.
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