How 3 Brenham banks saved hundreds of businesses and jobs during height of pandemic

BRENHAM, Texas (KTRK) -- Thousands of people in Brenham are still working, and hundreds of stores remain open after three local banks spent hours navigating the new government loan program.

"In this community, it's neighbors helping neighbors, and that's what we're about," said Jim Kruse, the president of Bank of Brenham.

The slogan was put to the test a year ago when the pandemic hit. Stores were forced to close. The government created a Paycheck Protection Program, a federal loan program designed to help small businesses.

But getting the money wasn't easy at first. In Brenham, that changed because of three banks.

"We were up here at night entering information, getting information into the system so we could get them resources to keep those doors open," Kruse recalled.

"We've never seen anything like this in our lifetime," said Brenham National Bank president, Tee Dippel. "We knew that as a bank, we knew we had to be there for our customers when they needed us the most."

Brenham National Bank, Bank of Brenham and Citizens State Bank secured more than 550 loans for Brenham area businesses. Because of the loans, thousands of people were able to keep their jobs, and hundreds of stores are still open.

The three banks haven't slowed down. There are still loans available until the end of May. It was a daunting effort at first, but one these bank presidents say was worth it.

"That's why Brenham is such to be able to live, work, raise a family," Dippel explained. "You see in times like this, difficult times, how a community comes together."

Want to see more from the heart of your community? Check out your town's stories through our ABC13+ Facebook page.

Follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.