Cross River, a bank and financial technology company based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, led a charge from April through June, fulfilling over 120,000 small business loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of the government’s CARES Act. Outpaced only by the nation’s three biggest lenders: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, and far smaller in size and stature, Cross River facilitated more than $5 billion in loans to small businesses across the country. In the process they saved approximately 750,000 jobs, thus supporting and protecting all of those households from lay-offs and financial distress. Even absent statistics on average household size per income earner, one could approximate that close to a million people were affected.
Cross River is one of the smaller banks in the industry, employing about 350 people. The company is also unique in that it has only a single bank branch in Teaneck. But in an environment of mass lay-offs and job loss, Cross River not only avoided lay-offs but has continued to hire throughout the COVID crisis. Approximately 50% of Cross River employees reside in Jewish Link reader communities, including Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Passaic and Union counties in New Jersey as well as the Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut.
In addition to providing banking services, Cross River is a fintech (financial-technology) company that specializes in banking innovation. It strives to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services employed at the back end of financial and loan operations. Emerging as a preferred Small Business Administration (SBA) lender and a community bank, Cross River reports an unusual and surprising statistic not ordinarily boasted among the banking giants. Their average PPP loan amount was around $41,000, considerably lower than the average $108,000 loan size of the nation’s 15 largest lenders. The smaller loan size indicates the significantly higher volume of businesses rescued by Cross River Bank under the PPP. These loans served to avert the threat of payroll bankruptcy for these small businesses.
Gilles Gade, the founder and CEO of Cross River, described that, “Cross River recognized how to leverage our own technology, knowledge of fintechs and expansive relationships to ensure wide access to PPP loans.” He added, “True to our roots, our team stepped up when others refused, ensuring that every small business in need had the resources and opportunity to receive funding, regardless of size or location.” In order to do this, Cross River partnered with over 30 technology companies in facilitating thousands of other businesses to benefit from PPP loans safely and efficiently.
Now that the loans have been made, the next challenge is that they must be serviced. To assist with this part of the loan process, Cross River partnered with Scratch, an even smaller company with just 50 employees, to help ensure that loan recipients complied with regulations and can prove that they used the loan funds correctly, a tedious process.
In addition to the demands of processing over 100,000 loans, Cross River found time to collaborate with The Jewish Link in an informational webinar, “Not Business As Usual: Ten Things Employers Need to Know to Survive and Thrive as Lockdowns End.” Cross River also hosted a number of virtual town halls in different communities on the resources and relief efforts available to small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.
From the human services side, Cross River also engaged in significant philanthropy during the height of the pandemic. Eden Hoffman, Cross River’s head of PR, reported that over 230,000 pieces of PPE (personal protection equipment) were sent to hospitals, first responders and EMTs. More than 250 meals went out to first responders and medical workers on the frontlines, and employees set up check-in calls between seniors and Cross River employees.
By Ellie Wolf