June 26, 2020   

General Assembly Advances Toward Adjournment

The Georgia General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn “Sine Die” soon after a busy two-week period when they resumed action after suspending the session March 23rd due to the COVID-19 pandemic. GBA’s priority bill, H.B. 781, the Department of Banking and Finance (DBF) housekeeping bill, has been sent to the Governor’s office for signature as has SB 462, which would transfer the regulation of the Georgia Industrial Loan Act to the DBF from the Insurance Department. Other important issues that have seen action this week include legislation pertaining to garnishments, lien waivers and Georgia’s probate code. Once the General Assembly finishes its work, we will publish a final report in our E-Legislative Update. With questions, please call Joe Brannen at 404.401.0274 or Elizabeth Chandler at 404.372.7893.


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USDA Loan Program Available to Help Rural Businesses and Ag Producers

Members are encouraged to take a look at the USDA’s Business and Industry CARES Act Program as one tool to help customers affected by COVID-19. The program offers guarantees to lenders for loans to rural businesses and agricultural producers to supplement their working capital to prevent, prepare for and respond to the economic impacts of the coronavirus. The 10-year loans are 90% guaranteed, carry a 2% guarantee fee and do not require tangible balance sheet equity (only 10% equity). Also, discounting of collateral is more flexible than the standard Business and Industry Loan Program. The maximum borrowers can apply for is the working capital needed for the recovery time, minus any revenue generated to cover those needs, minus any PPP loans. Here’s a short video about the program, and here’s a webinar for lenders with more details.


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PPP and EIDL Updates

The deadline for lenders to receive a PPP loan number for applicants is coming up June 30. At the time of the last program report June 21, there was more than $128 billion in funds still available. Georgia ranks sixth nationally in the number of PPP loans made. See the chart below for more stats. As a reminder, there were several important program updates during the past week. On Wednesday, SBA released an IFR clarifying the eligibility of PPP borrowers facing felony charges or whose probation or parole commenced within the past five years. On Monday, the SBA posted a new IFR to incorporate recent changes made by the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. The changes mostly relate to the move from 75% to 60% of eligible payroll costs, the new 24-week covered period and the retention of the 8-week optional covered period, the additional EZ form most borrowers will be eligible to use, and documentation lenders must review in your good faith effort to grant forgiveness. The IFR also addresses the question we’ve gotten frequently about whether a borrower can apply for forgiveness before the expiration of the covered period. The IFR gives borrowers that ability although it makes clear that certain payroll reductions must be considered throughout the covered period. The rule also addresses how borrowers document their inability to return to business activity because of governmental mandates to close or alter their traditional business patterns. This provision will be helpful to many in the hospitality industry and will likely result in more of their loans being eligible for forgiveness. And finally, the rule outlines bank and SBA review procedures. What wasn’t covered in the IFR is a common scenario where the borrower did not reduce wages by more than 25% before they apply for forgiveness and whether they would be able to do so after they apply for forgiveness. GBA’s General Counsel Jonathan Hightower, Fenimore, Kay, Harrison & Ford, LLP, weighed in with this, “The plain text of the forgiveness application has the borrower represent to salary/FTE reductions throughout the entire covered period. So, as I read the application, if a borrower opts for the 24-week period and submits the application early indicating no reduction in compensation/FTE, they are essentially representing not only that no reductions have occurred at the time of the application, but also that none will occur throughout the entirety of the covered period. How that representation may be audited for borrowers that submit applications early is unclear at this point.  Perhaps we’ll get an FAQ that is helpful in the future.” Late last week SBA released a procedural notice that describes when PPP loans proceeds must be used to refinance EIDL proceeds as well as the procedure for lenders and borrowers to remit to SBA disbursed loan proceeds. The notice covers when an EIDL may not be refinanced with a PPP loan, when EIDL is not required to be refinanced with a PPP, when a PPP must be used to refinance an EIDL. It also confirms that an EIDL advance does not need to be repaid. The notice contains a link to the government site where payments are to be remitted. SBA also announced the reopening of the EIDL and EIDL advance program for new applications.



As of

GA Loans

GA Loan Amounts

Average Size

GA Rank, # of Loans

GA Rank, Loan Amounts




$14.16 B







$4.01 B




EIDL Advances



$468.97 MM





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FDIC, OCC Act to Mitigate PPP Effects on Assessments

The FDIC and OCC this week took steps to minimize how PPP and other emergency response program loans may affect assessments for banks. FDIC’s final rule is retroactive to April 1, and it will apply to assessments starting in the second quarter of this year. FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams spoke about the proposal during our Annual Business Meeting June 15, cautioning that FDIC was making certain assumptions, including which loan categories PPP loans fall under and how they are funded which may not fully mitigate the effect for all banks. The 32 Georgia-based banks regulated by the OCC also will see some assessment relief. The OCC also issued a final rule to reduce its assessment, with Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks saying, “…many banks took on significant volumes of additional assets while providing relief to their customers as part of these federal programs. Banks should not be penalized by these efforts to support our national recovery.”


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Take a Deep Dive with The BSA Experience - Aug. 24-27, 2020

The BSA Experience, an immersive four-day compliance program, is back Aug. 24-27, 2020 by popular demand and this time at a new location, Lanier Islands Legacy Lodge in Buford. We’re teaming up with Terri SandsSecura Risk Management, to bring you a BSA program taught by BSA officers and experts on applicable and emerging topics. The program uses different learning styles to better equip each participant to get the most out of the school. See the full list of topics to be covered here, and secure your spot by registering here. This event is sponsored by Stout and Carr, Riggs & Ingram.


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FDIC Codifies "Valid When Made" Interest Rate Approach

We were pleased to see that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Thursday issued a final regulation to codify the agency’s longstanding guidance that the valid interest rate for a loan is determined when the loan is made, and will not be affected by a subsequent sale, assignment, or other transfer of the loan. The FDIC says the rule reaffirms the longstanding ‘valid when made’ doctrine, a nearly 200-year-old principle in contract law. It also The proposed is a fix for a Second Circuit Court ruling in a case (Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC,) that held that a non-bank buyer of a loan issued by a national bank could not export the originated interest rate into another state. Access the FDIC rule here. With questions, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.


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Regulators Modify Volcker Rule

The five federal bank regulatory agencies Thursday modified the Volcker rule by relaxing some of the prohibitions on banks investing in or sponsoring what are known as covered funds. The agencies say the rule also permits banks to offer other financial services and engage in other activities that do not raise concerns the Volcker rule was intended to address. “To facilitate capital formation, the rule would enable banking entities to provide credit through fund investments that would increase the availability of capital for businesses across the country. For example, banking entities would be permitted to invest in qualifying venture capital funds and credit funds, subject to important safeguards. In addition, the rule would improve several existing exclusions from the covered fund definition to provide clarity and simplify compliance,” said FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams in supporting the rule.


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Credit Committee Convenes

Our 32-member Credit Committee got together by video/teleconference today for a timely discussion of credit conditions around the state. Morris Bank’s Stacy Brantley chairs the committee beginning July 1, and he led the meeting. Among the topics were PPP updates, economic activity reports from different markets, considerations for dealing with loan payment and term deferrals that may soon end, organic loan and business development activity and more. The committee also began planning its conference, which is scheduled for Dec. 10-11 at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel in Atlanta. Brantley also welcomed new committee members David Durland, Renasant Bank; Adam Smith, PrimeSouth Bank; and Mark Thompson, Glennville Bank. Oconee State Bank’s Philip Bernardi is the committee vice chair for the coming program year. During the meeting, Brantley, Bernardi, outgoing committee chair Eddie Hoyle, Colony Bank, and Cadence Bank’s Mike Allen hosted small-group breakout sessions so members could easily share more detailed information with each other. With questions or ideas for the conference, contact Alison Moreau.



Committee Vice Chair Philip Bernardi, Oconee State Bank, and Cadence Bank's Mike Allen discuss business conditions in their parts of the state.


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Annual Meeting Hometown Edition

Catch Roger Tutterow’s Economic Intel Session Before It’s Gone

We’re excited that many members have taken advantage of the GBA Annual Meeting Hometown Edition Strategy & Skills Sessions Package. While most of the sessions will be available through July 17, Roger Tutterow’s economic intel session, “How the Economy Is Evolving through the Pandemic,” will be available only through June 30 because of the changing nature of the data he shared. So, be sure to catch that webinar before it’s gone at the end of the month. Click here for a refresher on all of the sessions. Don’t forget, the $350 per package price allows everyone at your company access to these sessions, so order today! Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


Related: Visit the Virtual Trade Show for information about high-quality products and services from GBA Associate Members and Strategic Partners, and opportunities to win gift cards, electronics and even UGA/Alabama football tickets.


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New Examiner Guidance Worth a Look

A couple of the members of the Credit Committee mentioned they're in the midst of off-site exams, so it's timely that on Tuesday, the Fed, FDIC, OCC, NCUA and the state regulators issued a comprehensive examiner guide. The information included specifically details expectations for how examiners should evaluate banks’ activities to address COVID-19 challenges. During her conversation with United Bank’s Jim Edwards last week during our Annual Business Meeting, FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams alluded to the coming guidance. The guidance includes specific instructions for examiners when considering an institution’s risk assessment, capital adequacy, asset quality, management actions, earnings, liquidity and market risk sensitivity. With respect to credit risk, the agencies acknowledged that the pandemic could cause substantial, temporary changes to property values and noted that "examiners will not subject a renewed, extended, or modified loan to adverse classification" solely because of such a decline, provided management determines the borrower has an ability to repay according to "reasonable modified terms."  And, when determining whether a formal or informal enforcement is necessary, examiners should consider whether the institution appropriately planned for resiliency and operational continuity, has implemented prudent policies and is pursuing “realistic resolution of the issues confronting the institution.” Access the guidance here.


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FHLBank Atlanta 2020 Election of Directors

Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (Bank) has begun the election to fill certain directorships on the Bank’s board of directors, including the member directorships in North Carolina and Virginia, and two independent directorships. The term of the directorships to be filled in this election begins on Jan. 1, 2021, and ends on Dec. 31, 2024. Pursuant to the Bank’s board-approved Equal Opportunity Policy Statement, which is available on the Bank’s website, the Bank encourages the consideration of diversity in nominating or soliciting nominees for positions on the Bank’s board of directors. Individuals interested in being considered for an independent directorship must complete and return to the Bank, by 5 p.m. EDT on July 15, 2020, the application and related forms that are available on the Bank’s website. If you have questions, please contact Tina Carew, Associate General Counsel, at 404.888.8549.


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QM Rule and GSE Patch Proposed

The CFPB this week proposed significant revisions to the Qualified Mortgage (QM) Rule and an extension of the temporary provision that grants QM status to loans eligible to be purchased or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, until the QM rule changes are finalized and take effect. The QM rule change would replace the use of the 43% debt-to-income ratio as a QM qualification standard with a price-based approach. Specifically, loans would meet the general QM loan definition only if the APR exceeded APOR for a comparable transaction by less than two percentage points as of the date the interest rate is set, the bureau noted. Lenders would still have to consider income, debt and other important financial obligations in determining ability to repay. We’re looking into the proposals for more analysis. Please let us know your thoughts, as well. Access the proposals here. With questions or comments, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, or Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.


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Credit Union Update

Time to Advocate for More Bank Access to Military Bases

The U.S. House and Senate soon will begin work to reauthorize the National Defense Authorization Act. One provision we’ll be supporting is a change to level the playing field for banks to operate on military bases. Tax-exempt credit unions can operate rent-free on bases, while banks cannot. An op-ed by national industry trade leaders in American Banker last week outlined the issue, as well as voiced disappointment in a recent NCUA decision to designate all active-duty military personnel as low-income. “This arbitrary action will allow industry giants like Navy Federal Credit Union and PenFed Credit Union to qualify as low-income institutions overnight, and gain enormous and inappropriate regulatory benefits intended for true LICUs,” the article said. Read the article here.


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Welcome New GBA Bank Counsel Section Member Corrie Thrasher

We’re excited this week to introduce our bulletin readers to the newest member of GBA’s Bank Counsel Section: Corrie Thrasher, Partner at Starfield & Smith, PC, in Atlanta. You can find Thrasher’s contact info below. Please take a moment to drop her a welcome note when you have time to get to know her better.


Ms. Corrie Thrasher

Starfield & Smith, PC




As a reminder, the GBA Bank Counsel Section was established for two purposes:

  • To identify the banking-related educational needs of attorneys representing GBA members

  • To help GBA provide networking opportunities for the large group of attorneys representing GBA members.

The Section is governed by the Bank Counsel Board of Directors, chaired this year by Virginia Harman of McRae, Smith, Peek, Harman, & Monroe, LLP. Reggie O'Shields, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta takes the helm as chair for the 2020-21 program year in July. See all current GBA Bank Counsel Section Members here. Please contact GBA Bo Brannen, 404.420.2014 with questions.


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GBA Partner ABA Insurance Services

FBI Notes Actual Fraud-Related Claims in Senate Judiciary Committee Testimony

Be vigilant against rapidly evolving fraud schemes. The FBI recently gave a statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee discussing the rapidly evolving fraud schemes exploiting the current pandemic and how they were addressing these crimes. Most alarming is that "the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to increase the number of stimulus, healthcare, bank, elder, and government fraud schemes. As of May 28, 2020, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received nearly the same amount of complaints in 2020 (about 320,000) as they had for the entirety of 2019 (about 400,000). About 75 percent of these complaints are frauds and swindles, presenting a challenge for the FBI’s criminal program given the sheer volume of submissions." Of interest are the real situations involving financial institutions and their customers being targeted by scammers under the guise of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and swindled through Advance Fees and Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes. Click here to see actual claims examples presented by the FBI. Contact ABA Insurance Services' Pat Williams, pwilliams@abais.com, 410.960.6878 to learn about coverage from ABAIS.


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CARES Act Retirement Plan Withdrawal Rules Expanded

The IRS released Notice 2020-50 to help more plan participants qualify for the CARES Act provisions that provide enhanced access to retirement plan distributions and loans. The notice also provides guidance and examples on how qualified individuals will reflect the tax treatment of these distributions and loans on their federal income tax filings.


Prior to this update, individuals who met one of the following reasons were eligible for coronavirus-related distributions: 1) participants diagnosed with COVID-19, 2) participants with a spouse or dependent diagnosed with COVID-19, or 3) participants who experience adverse financial consequences from being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, having reduced work hours, inability to work due to lack of child care, and closing or reduced hours for a business owned and operated by such individuals. The new rules have been expanded to also include additional factors such as reductions in pay, rescission of job offers, delayed job start dates and adverse financial consequences arising from the impact of COVID-19 on an individual’s spouse or household member. Participants who qualify for any of the allowed reasons may make hardship withdrawals from the 401(k) plan of up to $100,000 in 2020 as a coronavirus-related distribution, without the distribution being subject to the 10% penalty tax that would typically apply to early distributions.


Employers can choose whether or not to implement the coronavirus-related distribution and loan rules. Plan administrators may rely on an employee’s certification that such employee’s distribution qualifies as a coronavirus-related distribution. Participants who receive coronavirus-related distributions will have the right to repay such distributions by making contributions to the plan from which the distribution was received over the three-year period beginning on the day after such coronavirus-related distribution was received.


Notice 2020-50 also provides a safe harbor suspension for implementing suspension of 401(k) loan payments otherwise due through the end of 2020, but notes there may be other ways to administer the rules. We will continue to monitor the details of this process as they are updated.


Please reach out to Mandy Richards at 404.420.2025 with any questions. If your plan is not with GBA Retirement Services and you would like to learn more about our high-quality 401(k) program that includes a discretionary trustee, managed account solution for each participant, reduced fees, and added oversight with GBA Retirement Services as the Master Plan Sponsor, please also reach out. We would love to help you with a free plan comparison.


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How to Get Recognized for Your Community Commitment

July 1 is the deadline for entries for the ABA Foundation Community Commitment Awards. We encourage members to submit entries as a great way to demonstrate all the significant ways banks lift up your communities. There are eight categories: Affordable Housing, Community and Economic Development. Financial Education, Economic Inclusion, Protecting Older Americans, Supporting Military Families, Volunteerism and the George Bailey Distinguished Service Award. Enter here.


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Watch live and OnDemand!

Three-Part Webinar: Opening New Accounts in Georgia

Registration is open for this three-part webinar series on the topic of opening new accounts customized to Georgia law. This webinar will provide answers to the most complicated and challenging questions asked by customers and employees. Suzie Jones is an expert presenter who has the ability to take technical information and make it interesting and applicable. The detailed and comprehensive PDF of Suzie’s PowerPoint presentation is included with registration and serves as an invaluable resource for bankers across the state. Register for all three or just individual sessions. Don’t worry if you can’t attend live, OnDemand recordings will be available after the webinar.

  • Part 1: Personal/Consumer/Accounts - Aug 4, 1-3 p.m.

  • Part 2: Business Accounts - Aug 5, 1-3:30 p.m.

  • Part 3: Trust and Fiduciary - Aug 6, 1-3 p.m.

Click here to register. With questions, contact Jenna Lynn Warner.


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Fall Tri-Conference Registration is Open

Register now for GBA’s President/CEO, Bank Accountant, and Bank Counsel Conferences, to be held concurrently Sept. 27-29 at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. Click here for the Ritz’s Commitment to Cleanliness document outlining its operations and cleanliness standards during this time (document subject to change as guidelines change). GBA will take all necessary steps to host a safe and meaningful gathering. We invite and encourage you to register for the conference with us and reserve your hotel room today. The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds reopened to guests just last week and is operating with a limited team, including group reservations. To ensure the best service and results, the hotel has asked our guests to use the reservations website link rather than call the hotel directly to book a room. Click here to book in GBA’s block, or copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://bit.ly/2Nu91R8. The block will expire Sept. 8. After this date, all reservations will be subject to prevailing rate and space availability, and rooms may sell out before this date. Watch your email and the GBA E-Bulletin for updates during the coming weeks about the program. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


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Self-Paced Course: Marketing in a Digital World

Produced by Mindset Digital, Marketing in a Digital World, a six-course series, shows you how to break through the noise and reach your target audiences. You'll learn to leverage Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to expand your reach and build your bank's brand. All GBA members may register at the member rate of $599. For registration details, contact GBA’s ShaKeya Snipes, 404.420.2020.


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CRE, Personal Growth, TRID among Upcoming Webinars

There’s an informative lineup of webinars coming up in the next couple of weeks. Here are some of the topics.

Check the full calendar here for dates, times and more programs. With questions, contact GBA’s ShaKeya Snipes, 404.420.2020.


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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:


Greenville, SC - United Community Bank

The bank this week announced gifts totaling $10,000 to four United Way chapters throughout the bank’s southeastern footprint, including United Way of Greater Atlanta and United Way of Rome and Floyd County in Georgia. The donations were made on behalf of customers who participated in the bank’s inaugural virtual Customer Appreciation Day activities. Read more here.


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Augusta - Colony Bank

Alan Rabun has joined the bank as Vice President/Senior Mortgage Banker. Read more here. Davis Clark and Jeff Conzatt have joined the bank as mortgage lenders.


Cordele - Planters First Bank

Mike Phillips has been promoted to CEO and Eli Tinsley to bank President and Chief Banking Officer. Read more here.


Eastman - Citizens Bank and Trust Company

The bank’s name will change, effective June 30, 2020, to Great Oaks Bank and the holding company will become Great Oaks Financial, Inc.


Marietta - Synovus

Joanna Cole has joined the bank as a private wealth advisor.


Savannah - First Chatham Bank

Jeffrey Patrick joined the bank as Vice President and Branch Manager at the Hodgson Memorial Office.


Twin City - Durden Banking Company, Inc.

Wade Johnson was promoted to President of the bank effective July 1, 2020. Other promotions include Zac Frye to City President of the Swainsboro Office; Jim Cowart to City President of the Twin City Office; Kirk Rocker to City President of the Millen Office; Gail Curl  to City President of Metter Bank, A Division of Durden Banking Co; and Luke Lanier to Assistant City President of Metter Bank. G.W. Johnson Jr. will continue in his roles as CEO of the bank and Chairman and President of Durden Bankshares Inc.


Atlanta - Federal Reserve Bank

Jason Molfetas has been named senior vice president and chief information officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.



















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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