MBEP Member Spotlight: Pacific Valley Bank

Pacific Valley Bank: Adapting to Meet the Needs of Monterey County’s Business Community

In challenging times for so many small businesses, Pacific Valley Bank is finding ways to adapt to their changing needs. That’s because supporting local business is at the heart of its mission.

Small businesses are struggling under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, so when the first round of federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding opened in April 2020, the Salinas-based bank was one of the few banks that chose to accept PPP loan applications from throughout the local business community, sharing its expertise and resources of its lending team with the broader business community rather than limiting those services to its own banking customers. By doing so, it deployed close to $85 million into the local community through those PPP loans, said Pacific Valley Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sandi Eason, an infusion of emergency funding that helped save about 3,000 jobs.

Being a small local bank gives Pacific Valley Bank more flexibility to adapt to evolving conditions and respond nimbly to the regulatory changes in the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, said Eason. In order to help local business owners prepare for the third round of PPP funding, Pacific Valley Bank set up preregistration portals so that they could begin submitting documentation.

Eason joined Pacific Valley Bank in December 2020 after a long career with other financial institutions in the Monterey Bay region, and she currently serves on MBEP’s board of directors. Her family dates back four generations in Monterey County, and President/Chief Executive Officer Anker Fanoe also has deep roots in the southern Monterey County region, as do most of the bank’s leadership team and staff. There’s a deep commitment to the region’s well-being, not only through banking services but by the support of a wide range of local nonprofits and community-based organizations. Pacific Valley Bank’s membership in MBEP is yet one more way to help build up the community.

Mary Mejia, Assistant Branch Manager of Pacific Valley Bank’s Salinas branch. Photo courtesy of Pacific Valley Bank.

“The team that works for Pacific Valley Bank is a team that lives in the community and puts in 100 percent here,” said Eason. “Everything that we do is Monterey County-centric — the time that we donate, the resources that we donate — it’s 100 percent Monterey County.”

As vaccines are being rolled out and people can begin to envision a return to more normal times, Eason offers encouragement to local business owners.

“Outside of PPP, we have a ton of resources and are ready to lend on a conventional level and put the money back into the community,” Eason said. “As a bank, we were born in this community, raised in this community, and we are a Monterey County-based bank,” said Eason. “In tough times and in better times, we have never stopped lending, and we will be there.”

Founded in 2004 by a group of local investors who saw a need for a truly local community bank, Pacific Valley Bank remains closely attuned to the unique needs of Monterey County businesses, including agriculture, the county’s largest industry. As such, the bank has a leading role in supporting ag innovation in a rapidly-evolving sector. In the past few years, Pacific Valley Bank has branched out to serve Monterey County’s burgeoning marijuana industry. From growers to a wide range of ancillary businesses, those ventures generate healthy tax revenues for local municipalities and create local jobs, yet they have struggled to obtain financing from traditional financial institutions, said Eason. Serving that need is yet another way in which Pacific Valley Bank is committed to supporting this community and helping it thrive.