Alliance Credit Union employees spent August 20 going door-to-door in Ferguson and Jennings to offer local businesses emergency loans with 0% interest. Some businesses in this area have been devastated by the recent Ferguson riots.
Due to the nightly chaos, business owners spend hours each day setting up and restocking shelves, boarding up windows and cleaning up the storefronts. This cycle of rebuilding and the high potential for damages slow down the insurance claim process, which means many area business owners are struggling to stay open.
“We asked ourselves how could we help people get through those first weeks before the insurance claims are filed,” says Frank Evans, Human Resources director for Alliance. He explained that they could use the loan to cover the costs of new plywood, repairing windows or paying the insurance deductible.
The emergency loans are only available through Alliance’s Jennings office. It is for local businesses that have been affected by the civil unrest. Business owners can borrow up to $5,000 for 24 months, with no payment required for 45 days.
These emergency loans are made possible by Alliance’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) designation and grant.
Agreeing with police recommendations, Alliance chose to close its Jennings branch on Monday, August 11, and Tuesday, August 12, following the first riot in Ferguson. This branch is located on the border between Ferguson and Jennings. Luckily, the credit union’s building has remained untouched and undamaged.
“The Tuesday (August 12) after it happened, we held a conference call with the entire staff of the Jennings branch,” says Evans. “We asked them what they wanted to do, and they all agreed that they wanted to open the Jennings branch.”
Upon reopening the branch, at least one representative from Alliance’s senior management has been onsite to offer any assistance.
“It’s not only important to know what people feel and what’s going on—it’s important for our employees to know that we’re here for them and that we support them,” says Evans.
In addition to supporting their staff, Alliance Credit Union staffers have also shown their appreciation for members of the community. For example, staffers passed out bottled water to people as they were cleaning up the streets. And Tim Stephens, chief executive officer for the credit union, saw several young men helping clean up and treated them to breakfast.
Through its actions both big and small, Alliance Credit Union’s staffers have made a difference in their community, and they will continue to help Ferguson rebuild.