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How A Small Montana Bank Became A Big Payroll Protection Program Lender

Stockman’s Missoula President Bob Burns

The economic downturn from COVID-19 has pummeled main street businesses, but the Payroll Protection Program loans of the Cares Act have saved hundreds of thousands of them. On April 3, 2020, the first day of the first round of PPP loans, the number one lender in the country was, surprisingly, Montana’s Stockman Bank.

Over the course of two PPP rounds in 2020 and 2021, Stockman Bank provided over 6,000 loans totaling more than $530 million. That’s a staggering amount for a small, family-owned community banking network founded in Miles City, Montana in 1953. 

Today on Can Do, Stockman Missoula President Bob Burns shares firsthand what the past 14 months have looked like. Burns is a banking industry veteran, a native of Livingston, Montana and a University of Montana alumnus. He’s been with Stockman for seven years, but this past one has been a doozy.

How did Stockman get out of the gate so quickly on the PPP Loan Program? How did the bank reach out across Montana to the small-business community? And what will the future look like for Montana businesses as they slowly emerge from the pandemic shut-down?