Page 18 - BusinessWest April 27, 2020
P. 18

Mixed Bag
PPP Creates Positive Stories — and Lots of Frustration
 By Joseph Bednar
Char Gentes calls the Paycheck Protection Program “a lifeline.” Her nearly 200 employees no
doubt agree.
Gentes is the president and CEO of
Riverside Industries, a nonprofit that serves people with disabilities, helping them find ways to achieve daily inde- pendence, from securing and main- taining jobs to undertaking activities like voting and going to the store.
In mid-March, the organization was shut down by the same mandate that has shuttered the doors on countless businesses and nonprofits across Mas- sachusetts. Four weeks later, Riverside hadn’t laid anyone off — but that situa- tion was unsustainable.
“We had been keeping our employ- ees paid as we were waiting to hear what the state reimbursement was going to be; actually, a lot of nonprofits were doing that,” Gentes told Busi- nessWest. “The senior management, myself, and the board were all on the
same page — we wanted to keep our employees home, we wanted to have their back, and we wanted, as much as possible, to continue to pay them 100% and make sure they had health insur- ance. These human-service workers are often people who live paycheck to paycheck.”
When bankESB approved a Pay- check Protection Program (PPP) loan to Riverside Industries, Gentes could breathe a little easier, as the loan will allow it to pay its employees for the next eight weeks.
“We’re grateful for those eight weeks, and we certainly hope to be able to open our doors sometime in June,” she said.
While Riverside’s Easthampton facilities are closed, its mission has not stopped, as the organization contin- ues working with clients under a new remote service model. Without the PPP loan, Gentes said that she would be facing some difficult decisions on how
Matt Sosik helped Char Gentes secure a PPP loan through bankESB that kept Riverside Industries employees paid for eight weeks
The size of your wallet will never drive the quality of your service. MyBanker from Berkshire Bank is free, branchless and a real person.
   Let’s Do This.
Ever think you could bank like this? To find your MyBanker, visit
 Banking products are provided by Berkshire Bank: Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. MyBanker priority service and perks are dependent upon a full financial relationship commitment and may vary per individual. Non-relationship clients may be transferred to a traditional branch service delivery channel. 4/20
   18 APRIL 27, 2020
Staff Photo

   16   17   18   19   20