Dec. 31, 2020  

Happy New Year from All of Us at GBA

Thank you for the countless hours you’ve worked to be a source of strength for your community during 2020. You’ve given us such great stories to share with those within and outside the industry throughout the year, and once again we are reminded of the critical roles you play in the lives of so many people. Your support has also meant so much to us here at GBA. Like you did in your communities, we had to pivot and find ways to serve you in ways we'd never tried before. You hung in there with us which helped us to deliver our educational program and products and services. We learned a lot and we’ll incorporate much of that going forward as your feedback has been so positive. And you also helped us have another great year as we advocated on behalf of the industry with those in elected office, with our regulators and with the media. We’re looking forward to seeing more of you in-person next year and trust you will always think of GBA as the resource that empowers your success.


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Step Up and Vote

Throughout this year, GBA has been at the forefront asking our members and those you influence in the community to be sure and vote. We appreciate the big support from so many members who joined the GBA Democracy Days 2020 campaign. Your leadership was important and we believe contributed to record voter turnouts. Few predicted the outcomes we’ve seen and we’re down to the last three contests that will be decided next Tuesday where our two U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs and the winner for a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission will be chosen. If you didn’t take advantage of early in-person or absentee voting, please vote in person Tuesday.


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Planning for Implementation of Latest COVID-19 Package

With President Trump’s signature Sunday night, the latest COVID-19 stimulus package became law and implementation will be fast paced. First up were direct Economic Impact Payments (EIP) banks began getting through ACH this week and checks and debit cards that will coming in waves over the next few weeks. Treasury tells us 147 million items will be sent to eligible recipients with completion slated for the week of Jan. 24, 2021. The Fed and Treasury held a webinar this week on the process and you may access a recording and handout material at this link. NACHA has also provided some helpful FAQs on processing at this link. You’ll also likely soon start seeing more EIDL grants presented for processing. See the article below with more details. SBA will continue to make three months of payments, within certain limits, on existing 7(a), 504 and microloans beginning in February, so be looking for those. USDA will be getting their guidance out shortly on direct payments to certain agriculture producers and you should start seeing money flowing into those ag deposit accounts soon. One newly eligible group will be contract poultry growers of which there are many in Georgia. On the loan side, SBA has 10 days to release guidelines for the next round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and we’ve encouraged SBA to not open the program until all guidelines are in place and their portal is ready to receive applications. SBA is already making changes in the online PPP portal such as taking into account EIDL grants are not to be deducted from forgiveness decisions. In emails last week to CEOs, boards, committees and roundtables, GBA president and CEO Joe Brannen sent an extensive summary of the bill and reported on various provisions we were getting questions about. It’s too early to know if many new borrowers will express interest in the program, especially since over $130 billion went unused in the last round. We do expect there will be interest in second loans from existing borrowers as many in the hospitality and accommodation sectors will likely be able to show they’ve experienced a 25% drop in revenues. Getting a simpler one-page forgiveness affidavit for loans of $150,000 or less affects over 85% of PPP loans made by Georgia lenders and we’ll let you know when that’s available. Expanding the non-payroll eligible expenses will also help more borrowers get full forgiveness. We’ll need to learn from SBA how to handle EIDL advances that were previously not forgiven. Congress was clear those recipients will be made whole so unwinding those transactions for borrowers you’ve already handled their forgiveness applications will be a challenge. We were glad to see the Fed facility remain available for those of you that used the facility to fund your PPP loans. Also having Congress clarify agent fee language helps those lenders that have been facing litigation. If you have questions during this implementation period, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.


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New EIDL Grants on the Way

The latest COVID-19 relief bill has $20 Billion allocated for Cash Advance Grants that are disbursed ahead of any approved or denied Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). A similar provision in the CARES Act was exploited by large groups of people with no legitimate business who all claimed to employ between 1 and 10 persons in order to receive grant funds scaled at $1,000 per employee. Many of our members were alert to the potential fraud and will be on the lookout again for another round of SBA “EIDG” disbursements in whole amounts between $1,000 and $10,000 to customers with no known history of business ownership nor control. The disbursements may be placed in personal accounts, or recently opened business accounts in an effort to appear legitimate. We know it’s frustrating for our members to be constantly defending against being used as a conduit for wire fraud and money laundering, but that’s where we are again. Our members will be actively using existing Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer protocols and requiring supporting documentation such as providing a business license or payroll records to verify a here-to-for unidentified business for which the customer is receiving SBA grant funding. SBA is telling us when there is a preponderance of evidence that the recipient is either ineligible to receive COVID business relief funding or where there is a suspicion of fraud/money-mule activity, and those funds need to be returned by check, please send the check: SBA / Denver Finance Center;  Attn: Paul Keenan; 721 19th St., 3rd Floor, Room 301; Denver, CO 80202. You are also asked to send an email notification to the SBA at including the borrower name, loan number, and amount being returned and annotate that it is for EIDL Advance Repayment due to Fraud. To locate the EIDG application number and the EIDL loan number: SBAD TREAS 310/MISC PAY NTE*PMT*EIDG – Economic Injury Disaster Advance/Grant Max $10,000 – the number after EIDG is the application number SBAD TREAS 310/MISC PAY RMT*CT*########## the 10 digits following CT* is the SBA Loan Number or the Customer ID 15-digit number ending in 73000 also contains the loan number. If you need help to return SBA funds that appear to have been disbursed to an ineligible person, the SBA OIG Special Agent assigned to Georgia is also a resource. Contact Wes Anthony, 202.733.8748,


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Key Points of Interest for PPP lenders from GBA Partner Abrigo

GBA Endorses Abrigo’s PPP Loan Origination and Forgiveness Platforms

The details included in the fine print may still be coming out, but one thing is clear: a PPP extension was signed by President Trump on Dec. 27, which means additional funds for small businesses are on the way. The GBA has been proud to endorse the PPP loan forgiveness platform from GBA partner Abrigo, and we are happy to announce an additional endorsement of Abrigo’s PPP loan origination software.


NOTE: Discounts are available for GBA members, that include waived set up fees and bundled pricing for E-Signature packages. Additionally, any GBA member that purchases the Sageworks LOS from Abrigo before June 30, 2021 will receive a credit paid towards PPP Origination. For more information, please contact Abrigo’s Laura Wahl,, 919.906.5649.


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Three Retiring from Georgia U.S. House Delegation

When the current session of Congress completes it work Saturday, Georgia will experience one of the largest turnovers in history of members who will not be back for new session. We’ve already recognized the death of longtime Rep. John Lewis and wanted to send our best wishes to three other members who are leaving to pursue other opportunities. We first met Rep. Doug Collins in 2007 when he was elected to serve in the Georgia General Assembly and we continued our relationship when he was elected to congress in 2013. In Congress, he served on the Rules, Oversight & Government Reform and Judiciary Committees. We also met Rep. Tom Graves as a member of the Georgia General Assembly having been elected in 2002. He was elected to Congress in 2010 to take the seat held by Nathan Deal when he stepped down for his successful run for Governor. Graves served on the Appropriations Committee and just completed work as vice chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a bipartisan effort to help Congress work more effectively. We met Rep. Rob Woodall in the early 1990s when was on the staff of former Rep. John Linder. Woodall was elected to the seat in 2011 when Linder decided to not seek reelection. Woodall has served on the Rules, Budget and Transportation & Infrastructure Committees. On behalf of our members, we express our thanks to each of these members for listening to our concerns and supporting helpful reforms.


Collins Graves Woodall


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2020 BankPAC Wraps Up Record Year

The 2020 BankPAC campaign has concluded and along the way enabled GBA to support those elected officials who support the banking industry like never before. Both the FedPAC and the StatePAC surpassed their most aggressive goals ever. Be on the lookout for a year-end BankPAC Campaign Report highlighting these accomplishments and those donors who made it possible. We appreciate all of our contributors and want to thank Heritage Southeast Bank, Leonard Moreland, president and CEO, for contributing to the GBA StatePAC and their eligible employees, officers and directors for contributing to the GBA FedPAC this week. Thank you for your support of this important effort! With questions, contact Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.


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Gov. Kemp Issues Latest COVID-19 Executive Orders

Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Brian Kemp has issued executive orders related to the public health state of emergency and outlining various guidelines designed to empower a healthy Georgia. On Dec. 30, he issued two new orders, one extending the state of emergency through Feb. 7, 2021 and the other outlining various guidelines that will apply through Jan. 15, 2021. Because of your designation as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, banks and bankers are exempt from most of the guidelines although CDC recommendations for social distancing and other safety measures are mandatory.


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Make Plans Now to Join Us at 2021 Events

As 2020 comes to an end, we are looking forward to a new year of virtual and safely in-person conferences and events. Mark your calendars and start planning now to join us in 2021. Click here for a list of key events already confirmed. To make arrangements, just email, identify the events you know you want to attend, and we’ll get an invoice to you. If you would like to discuss your 2021 plans, contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad.


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Boost Your Career with GBA Schools

The Georgia Banking School and GBA Compliance School both will be back in session May 2-7 in Athens. The Georgia Banking School Board and GBA Compliance School Board have made some tweaks to the curriculum that students are sure to enjoy, and we’re making some contingency plans for modified in-person sessions or a quality virtual experience in the event the pandemic persists into next spring. There’s no better way for a career-oriented banker to boost their career. So, here are some action items for getting enrolled:

  • CEO action – Identify emerging talent and allocate budget so you can have a representative at each school

  • HR officer action – Take a look at specific development plans to identify candidates

  • Alumni action – Recruit your teammates or colleagues at other banks by sharing how the programs helped your career

  • Banker action – Enroll early, you will be able to adjust registration if necessary based on public health restrictions or program changes.

Georgia Banking School details and enrollment access here

GBA Compliance School: Details and enrollment access here


With questions, contact Alison Moreau, 404.420.2034.


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Register for only $99 through Jan. 7!


Remote Work: How Banks Can Build and Lead a Team, Jan. 21

We’ve been navigating uncharted waters for months now and remote work looks like it’s here to stay. While remote work is new to so many of us -- it’s not new to BELAY. BELAY has been growing a successful company through remote work for over 10 years and is proud to lead the charge in disrupting the status quo by dismantling the ‘way things have always been done.’ Join Krisha Buehler, BELAY’s vice president of human resources, on Jan. 21 as she shares answers to some of the most asked questions regarding remote work in this new webinar:

  • How do you measure productivity in a remote environment?

  • What traits indicate a person can work remotely?

  • How can managers support employees who work remotely?

  • Is remote work sustainable for my bank/company long term?

Register here (only $99 per person through Jan. 7!) Questions? Email Jenna Lynn Warner.


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Upcoming Webinar Hot Topics in 2021

We appreciate members choosing the programs we offer for your ongoing needs. Check out these upcoming virtual offerings. View the full calendar here for dates, times and more programs. With questions, email

Save 10-30% with a subscription package - details here!


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Recruit, Retain and Develop the Best Bankers with GBA Career Solutions


GBA Job Bank - GBA will post open positions, free of charge, for GBA members. See the open positions in Georgia here. We will also post professional summaries for bank-job seekers on our Bankers Available page. To make the process easy and answer any questions, we've developed this Q & A. Please contact Katina Prokos, 404.420.2021.


GBA Strategic Partner BankTalentHQ - The central feature of BankTalentHQ is its national bank-job board. Other key benefits include: resume search access, regional and national reach for your open positions, frequent special offers and custom sales/coaching programs. Visit BankTalentHQ to learn more. See the open positions in Georgia here, or search regionally or nationally here.


GBA’s Career Paths for Bankers™ - GBA’s Career Paths for Bankers™ is the most unique, organized and easy-to-use career development resource available for bankers and banks. GBA’s pioneering career development resource is unlike any other in the banking industry. Click here to start mapping your banking career today.


Why do people choose careers in banking? Whatever their talents, interests and educational background, there is a career in banking for them. Here are few good reasons to share with folks you know.


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GBA Community Connections

We want to share all the good work GBA member banks, bankers, Associate Members and Bank Counsel Section members do to support their communities. Read all about the Community Connections our banks and members have below. Share your Community Connections by sending a brief paragraph and any photos of activities you have to us and we'll publish them at our earliest opportunity. Send information to Katina Prokos and David Oliver, or if your company would like to sponsor this content, let us know. Here's our latest installment:


Atlanta - Georgia Primary Bank

The bank held their 10th annual toy drive benefiting Toys for Tots.

Blairsville - United Community Bank

The bank recently announced gifts totaling $20,000 to five United Way chapters throughout the bank’s southeastern footprint.

Watkinsville - Oconee State Bank

The bank announced it has established The Remarkable Foundation to commemorate its 60th anniversary. The foundation will provide financial assistance to nonprofit organizations in the communities served by the bank. Read more here.


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Cordele - Planters First Bank

Bank team member Lucia Edalgo retired on Dec. 30 after 40 years of service.


LaGrange - Colony Bank

Ben Keller has been promoted to Vice President, Commercial Banker for its LaGrange market. Read more here.


Metter - Pineland Bank

Bank team member Connie Sisson recently celebrated 35 years in banking. Read more here.


Moultrie - Ameris Bank

Dave Buckridge has joined the bank as market president for the bank’s Moultrie, Thomasville and Cairo markets. Read more here.


Moultrie - First National Bank

The bank is opening a new office in Moultrie doing business as First National Bank of Moultrie. The office will be located in downtown at 26 South Main Street and will be open to customers in early 2021. Read more here.


Sardis - Southern Bank

Jamin Hujik has been named president and CEO. Preston Connor is now executive vice president.


Atlanta - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Elizabeth A. Smith, former executive chair, Bloomin' Brands, Inc., Tampa, has been named Chair and Claire Lewis Arnold, chief executive officer, Leapfrog Services, Inc., Atlanta, has been named Deputy Chair for 2021. Our sympathies to the family, friends and former colleagues of retired chief economist Tom Cunningham who died unexpectedly this week.


Springfield, IL - BankTalentHQ

GBA Associate Member BankTalentHQ will be named the official job board for the American Bankers Association on April 14, 2021.



Edalgo Sisson



Read All About It: Send Us Your News

Please remember to include the Georgia Bankers Association on the list of recipients for announcements about promotions, new employees and special recognition your bank has received. We want to share your news with your colleagues across the state. Please forward your announcements and photos to GBA's David Oliver and Katina Prokos.

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