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Business of the Year: Financial Services

Published Friday Jul 16, 2021

Author Matthew J. Mowry

St. Mary’s Bank

Ron Covey, president and CEO. Photo by Christine Carignan.

The nation’s first credit union has helped members weather all kinds of challenges during its 112-year history, and 2020 was no exception.

During the pandemic, St. Mary’s Bank in Manchester assisted 734 small businesses, including 125 nonpro-fits, through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which in turn supported more than 6,125 employees. As the leading NH credit union for underwriting PPP loans, the NH District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration awarded St. Mary’s with its 2020 Credit Union of the Year Award.

President and CEO Ron Covey also predicts businesses will need financial support beyond those initial loans to fully recover.

“Our next step is to take care of those small businesses to help them continue to grow and help the economy,” he says.

And, despite the PPP frenzy, the credit union continued its community support in 2020. St. Mary’s donated more than $275,000, including $32,000 to The Palace Theatre’s Performing Art Series (the first installment of a multi-year commitment), $18,000 to Granite United Way and $10,000 to the Nashua Police Athletic League’s Building on Hope Project.

It also established and funded the St. Mary’s Bank Charitable Foundation, contributing $1 million to that and, in turn, made a $500,000 commitment over five years to Catholic Medical Center for the Pregnancy Care Center and $25,000 to Frontlines NH to support hospitals and health care workers fighting the pandemic.

Additionally, some of the credit union’s 272 employees logged 2,501 volunteer hours last year. When Catholic Medical Center faced a shortage of protective equipment, St, Mary’s stepped up, donating masks and gear from their own supply, Covey says. “They needed it more than us. … We were all in this together.” The credit union also has a one-time special fund through which it provided 25 laptop computers to a school for students who needed them for remote learning.

St. Mary’s Bank was among NH’s credit unions  donating a total of $125,000 to Make-A-Wish NH, pushing their collective donations to the organization over 24 years to more than $3 million. And while COVID-19 restrictions postponed the wishes of many children, St. Mary’s employees participated in several community parades held across the state.

Since its founding in 1908 in the home of attorney Joseph Boivin (now America’s Credit Union Museum) to help French Canadian immigrants working in Manchester mills, St. Mary’s has grown to more than 100,000 members with 10 branches and three dedicated mortgage centers in Southern NH, including a brand-new branch opened in Nashua in 2020.

Covey says the credit union also deferred loan payments for those struggling, but, he adds, many members were doing fine and saving. “Our assets grew tremendously,” he says. “ That allowed us to have the liquidity to loan to those who needed it. It is the mission of the credit union— people helping people.”

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