March 12, 2021  

General Assembly Three-fourths Through 2021 Session

It’s been another busy week in the Georgia General Assembly. Monday was Crossover Day, and the House and Senate were in session late into the evening passing bills from their chamber to have them considered by the other chamber later in the session. Legislators were also in session Tuesday through Thursday, and much of the focus was in committees reviewing bills passed by the other chamber. We’ve spent a good bit of time working with legislators this week on more tweaks to the Department of Revenue proposal that will establish a regime for banks and others to report accounts held by delinquent taxpayers. The process is designed to work similarly to the process in place for child support recovery. We will publish this week’s Legislative Update on Friday giving more details about this and other issues of interest to the industry.


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Notable Provisions for Bankers in the Latest COVID Stimulus Bill

President Biden has signed the American Recovery Plan (ARP), which the U.S. House passed Wednesday. Below are some key things bankers should know about the ARP:


Economic Impact Payments. Direct stimulus payments could start to arrive within two weeks by direct deposit or sent to taxpayers by paper check or debit card. Congress could not include language exempting these payments from assignment or garnishment because the bill was passed through budget reconciliation rules. Efforts are underway to pass exemption legislation separately, so stay tuned about that.


Farmers of Color. Much of Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock’s S. 278, Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act related to socially disadvantaged groups, was incorporated into the ARP. Farm Service Agency (FSA) guaranteed loans or Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) storage facility guaranteed loans for covered borrowers will be paid off, and an additional 20% will be given to those borrowers to help with the taxable nature of the payoffs. Procedures are pending from USDA. Socially disadvantaged groups consist of African-Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders and women of color. Click here for a summary of these and related provisions.


Restaurants. There is a new $25 billion grant program for restaurants and bars hurt by the pandemic. The grants provide up to $10 million per company with a limit of $5 million per physical location. Your restaurant customers may use the grants to cover payroll, rent, utilities and other operational expenses.


COBRA. The Act provides six months of premium subsidy for those eligible for COBRA benefits. The legislation directs the U.S. Department of Labor to implement the provision, and we will be closely following those developments. For our members covered by the GBA Insurance Trust, we will be communicating directly with our Human Resource contacts as well as communicating directly with your former employees the Trust covers for their COBRA benefits. Stay tuned for more information.


We'll share more datails and analysis as it becomes available.


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PPP Extension Being Considered

There’s an extremely narrow window that will take lots of bipartisan agreement among members of Congress, but there is ongoing conversation about extending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)beyond the March 31, 2021, date the program is set to end. On Wednesday, the House Small Business Committee leaders reached a bipartisan agreement to extend the PPP through June 30, 2021. As part of that agreement, new applications will be accepted by SBA for an additional 60 days until May 31, 2021, after which the remaining 30 days will be used to process any outstanding loans that have been submitted to SBA. The House is tentatively scheduled to consider this extension under the non-controversial suspension calendar next week. Though this bipartisan deal was reached among House Committee leaders, the Senate Small Business Committee leaders have not officially agreed to the proposal and would need to request to have this measure move through the Senate on unanimous consent. We should know more shortly if this strategy will work. Our request so far has been limited to asking SBA to continue processing applications received by March 31, as we suspect some will still be held up because of SBA compliance checks and lenders won’t have loan numbers for these borrowers.


Georgia’s latest stats on this year’s PPP funding through March 7 are:

  • 85,613 loans

  • $4.3 billion approved

  • Average Georgia loan is $50,217 ($68,470 national average)

  • Georgia is 6th in number of loans and 10th in loan volume.

We communicated this to CEOs and other key contacts in our update emails this week. Other topics included Targeted EIDL Advance Grants, a note about the correct PPP Forgiveness Forms, and the Fed’s extension of the Paycheck Protection Program Lending Facility through June 30.


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Vaccine Eligibility Expanded

Gov. Brian Kemp Wednesday announced a broad expansion of eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines that will likely cover a lot of member bankers. Beginning Monday, March 15, those aged 55 and older as well as individuals meeting any one of a long list of underlying health conditions and risk factors will be eligible for a vaccine. Here’s a link to the Department of Health’s website with details and links to various vaccine sites. Vaccine supplies continue to improve each week and the number of Georgians being vaccinated continues to rise.


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CRA Updates

Qualifying Coronavirus Relief Activities Info Clarified

Federal banking agencies have updated their frequently asked questions list about the Community Reinvestment Act and the coronavirus pandemic. Updated topics include:

  • Service-test criteria: PPP-related activities and loan processing and servicing activities for bank-originated retail loans are not included. PPP activities may be considered under the CRA lending test.

  • Returned PPP Loans: PPP loans that have been returned or rescinded should not be reported on CRA loan registers.

  • LMI and Underserved Loans: PPP loans greater than $1 million in low- or moderate-income (LMI) areas or certain distressed or underserved areas will be eligible community development activities.

  • Fee waivers: The waiving of ATM, overdraft and other fees for LMI individuals are eligible for CRA consideration. There are updates to IRA and HELOC transaction eligibility, as well.

  • Virtual service: Services provided through virtual means as alternative to in-person services may be considered for eligibility if specifically related to community development and other criteria.

Read the updated FAQs here.


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Fed Definition of Minority-Owned Institutions Expanded to Include Women-Owned Banks

The Federal Reserve has clarified its guidance on how it defines minority depository institutions, and expanded its definition to include women-owned financial institutions. The Fed’s definition of a “women’s depository institution” includes “any depository institution in which more than 50% of the ownership or control of which is held by one or more women; more than 50% of the net profit or loss of which accrues to one or more women; and a significant percentage of senior management positions of which are held by women. Get details here. Southeast First National Bank in Summerville, GA, is classified as a Women-Owned Financial Institution by the OCC.


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Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation Discrimination Rules Clarified

The CFPB this week issued a rule clarifying that sex discrimination prohibition in the Equal Credit Act and Regulation B includes sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. The CFPB said the interpretive rule is consistent with a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that the prohibition against sex discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses sexual discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Updates to CFPB examination guidance and publications are forthcoming, and the bureau said it will take enforcement actions against lenders for violations. The CFPB’s interpretive rule is effective upon publication in the Federal Register. Read the rule here.


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Marketing Focus

How to Leave 2020 Marketing Challenges Behind & Move Forward

As we pass the one-year mark since the pandemic hit, bank marketers are left asking a critical question: How does the bank learn from the marketing challenges we've experienced and what opportunities can we tap into to be successful this year? Onovative, a division of GBA Associate Member Main Street provides answers to this question and how your bank can leverage technology to propel your growth efforts forward in an interesting article here.


Related Programming Starts Next Week: Main Street’s Sherry Patton presents on this topic April 6 during GBA’s Marketing Six Pack Virtual Conference series. The series is on Tuesdays from 10-11 a.m. March 16-April 20. See the full schedule and register here.


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National Peanut Month Recipe Contest

Calling all chefs! In honor of National Peanut Month (March), the Georgia Peanut Commission is hosting a virtual recipe contest! Grab your apron and cookbooks and get ready for a peanut party! A full list of terms and conditions can be found here.


What you need to know:

  • Submit your recipe by visiting this link:

  • The contest dates: 3/8/21-3/31/21

  • Judging period: 4/1/21-4/11/21

  • Winners Announced: 4/12/21

  • Anyone from the US or the District of Columbia may enter as long as they are 18 years of age or older. *With the exception of GPC staff, their immediate families, GPC Board Members, and their immediate families.

  • All recipes must be original to you/your family. This contest is for any and all peanut/peanut butter recipes, not just desserts! Your recipe can be savory or sweet and can fall under one of these categories: Kid-Friendly, Appetizers (or snacks), Entrees (any mealtime), or Desserts.

  • The winners will win a Georgia Peanuts Prize pack full of peanut products and merchandise! Winners will also have their recipe featured in our “Recipe of the Month” email newsletter!

GBA partners with the Georgia Peanut Commission each October for the annual Georgia Bank Peanut Week promotion supporting this important Georgia crop. Details are coming soon about this year's campaign. Please email with any questions.


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Conference Corner

HR, Security and Rural Development and Lending on the Horizon

We’ve got several important professional skills conferences coming up. Take a look at the latest about each:

  • HR Connect: Virtual HR Institute – March 24-25

Our virtual agenda is chock full of speakers that will re-charge and refresh your HR tool kit. We’ve got a thorough legal update session planned, as well as sessions about culture and community, employee communication and training, retirement planning, leading remote teams and working from home and a little HR-self help for the HR pros. Get details and register here.


  • Security Conference – April 14-16, The King and Prince, St. Simons

One of our spotlight sessions is a three-hour deep-dive on robbery prevention trends with Carol Dodgen, of Dodgen Security Consulting. GBA’s Bank Security Conference is the top local event coming up for bank security pros to help them sharpen their skills. Other sessions will cover PPP/employment fraud, business e-mail compromise, sex-trafficking awareness and prevention, roles and responsibilities updates, peer networking and more. Get all the details and register here.


  • Rural Development and Lending Conference – May 20-21, The King and Prince, St. Simons

This year’s agenda includes Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, an economic outlook, a commodity outlook, a crop insurance update, ag. tech and precision ag trends, regulatory updates and peer networking. Registration will open soon so stay tuned.

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Volunteer Opportunity Highlight: Leadership GBA Board of Directors

The Leadership GBA Board of Directors will have five Group Representative positions opening up this summer. Among other projects, the Leadership Board plans and sponsors the annual Leadership Conference, BankPAC Classic Golf Tournament, BankPAC Sporting Clays Tournament and the GBA Leadership Roundtables. The Board also actively supports the Georgia Banking School. The open positions will be for a two-year term as a representative from one of our even-numbered geographic areas -- Groups 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10. Click here to see our Group Map. If you are a banker from an even-numbered group and have actively supported the Leadership section by attending the annual Leadership Conference or participating in one of our three Leadership Roundtables, you are eligible to run or nominate someone from your even-numbered group. New board members will be elected by their peers at this year’s Leadership Conference, July 12-14, at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra, FL. Ready to put your hat in the ring, or nominate a fellow banker? Click here for our committee fact sheet or here for the volunteer/nomination form. Questions? Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad.


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GBA Annual Meeting Spotlight

Learn Strategies to Grow Your Online and Branch Channels

The educational slate for the GBA Annual Meeting, June 20-22, at The Cloister at Sea Island, is excellent and we’d like to highlight a general session and speaker you’re really going to enjoy. Sean Payant, chief strategy officer with Haberfeld, will discuss “Traditional Banking Structures in the Digital Age.” Payant advises that although COVID-19 has moved customers toward expanded use of digital banking channels, the data still shows that more than 91% of customer growth for community banks is still coming through your branch channels. He’ll share strategies to grow your online and branch channels for long-term viability. Take a tour around the annual meeting website for everything you need to know, and to register. Meeting registration is required before you can reserve your room. Don’t delay, we’re expecting a big crowd. Exhibit and sponsorship opportunities are available. Thank you to these associate members who are showing their support through sponsorship: CRS Data; Elliott Davis; Fenimore, Kay, Harrison & Ford; FHLB of Atlanta; Haberfeld; Jack Henry; Mauldin & Jenkins; McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Company; Nichols Cauley Associates; Point to Point Environmental; Safe Systems; ServisFirst Bank; SouthState Bank; Truist Bank; United Bankers’ Bank; and Wipfli. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.



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GBA Partner Webinar: Jump-Starting Your Mortgage Business with Promontory MortgagePath

Promontory MortgagePath is offering a complimentary on-demand webinar focused on helping you transform your mortgage business to meet evolving borrower expectations and market demands. During the webinar, panelists will discuss innovative strategies for maintaining a good product mix, and reducing origination costs. You don’t want to miss this chance to jump-start your bank’s mortgage business. For questions, please contact Promontory’s Diane Capers, 314.593.5015; or Sue Shaffer , 901.283.3034. Access the Webinar here.


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It’s Risky Not to Attend the GBA Compliance School

The GBA Compliance School will be back in session May 2-7 in Athens. This session will be Year 1 of the program and will examine the fundamentals required to ensure a solid Compliance Management Program. Why should you attend? Those new to the discipline establish the most up-to-date foundation for being an effective compliance pro. Experienced compliance officers will get key updates to strengthen their skills and keep their programs on solid footing. By not attending, you'd miss out on knowing about important changes that can enhance your program's strength. The GBA Compliance School Board has lined up an all-star cast of instructors. Get more details and enrollment access here. With questions, contact Alison Moreau, 404.420.2034.


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GBA Strategic Partner FMS Helps Banks with Marketing, Branding, Social Media and More

Digital marketing channels such as email, social media, blogs, online display ads, search engine optimization, and search engine and mobile marketing are important for winning new business from today's bank customers. GBA Strategic Partner Financial Marketing Solutions, or simply FMS, is a group of strategists and creative thinkers who serve banks, and only banks. The bank brands and other projects that endeavor to create are unique, crafted with care, personal devotion and obvious passion. Creativity is critically important to them, but their work also has to be strategic or it’s just marketing fluff. FMS knows that a solid brand campaign will accomplish goals, impact the bottom line, affect positive change and be memorable recognizable no matter where your customers are. The GBA has been proud to endorse FMS as a GBA Strategic Partner since 2007. For more information, please contact Sean Hockenbery of FMS at 615.591.2073.


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Leadership Conference Registration Now Open

We are excited to announce that registration for the 2021 Leadership Conference is now open. Hosted by our Leadership GBA Board of Directors, this annual gathering of GBA’s emerging bank leaders will be July 12-14 at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra, Florida (near Jacksonville). Who should attend?

  • Young or newly appointed c-suite bankers

  • Senior-level officers from throughout the bank

  • Department heads and supervisors

  • Those with community relations responsibility

  • Business development officers

  • Those with government relations responsibilities or interests.

Click here to access everything you need to know and be sure to check out the educational sessions. It’s a great slate, and we’ll be telling you more about that in upcoming issues. Sponsorship and exhibit opportunities are available and can be reserved online. A big shout-out to these GBA associate members who are supporting the event through sponsorship: CSRA Business Lending, FHLB of Atlanta, Point to Point Environmental, the Holmes Shaw Agency and Wipfli. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.



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Click below for more details and some special offers from three GBA Strategic Partners:




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Save the Date! Executive Strategy Tri-Conferences Coming in September

Be sure your calendar is marked for the 2021 Executive Strategy Tri-Conferences (President/CEO, Bank Accountant, and Bank Counsel Conferences), Sept. 26-28 at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds on Lake Oconee. GBA member bank presidents, CEOs, bank directors, bank accountants and bank attorneys are invited to attend. Continuing education credit will be offered. The opening event will be Sunday evening, Sept. 26 and the conferences will close at Noon on Tuesday, Sept. 28. We’ll share details in the coming weeks and a registration announcement a bit later in the spring.  Questions? Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad.


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New In-Person Programs!

  • Loan Documentation Seminar – April 14

Speaker: Mike Allen of Cadence Bank 

Learn more here.


  • Information Security Officer Seminar – May 19

Speaker: Tom Hinkel of Safe Systems

Sponsored by Safe Systems
Learn more here.

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GBA Virtual Seminars

Reporting and Record Retention

Can’t attend live? Recordings are available for one week after each training.


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Join live or purchase a recording!

Upcoming March Webinars

Do you have a webinar subscription package? Save 10-30% with a subscription package - details here. Use your credits on the webinars below or purchase webinars individually. View the full calendar here for dates, times and more programs.

Questions? Email


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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:



Dublin - Morris Bank

Stepping Stone Child Advocacy and Sexual Assault Center in Dublin recently received a grant from the Morris Bank Community Foundation for $15,000 to help fund several renovations and updates to their facility. The center also received $2,356.04 in proceeds from this year’s Shamrock Your Ride community event, hosted by Morris Bank.

San Francisco, CA - Wells Fargo

The bank this week announced a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions (including its financed emissions) by 2050. The company will also launch an Institute for Sustainable Finance to manage the deployment of $500 billion of financing to sustainable businesses and projects by 2030, as well as support science-based research on low-carbon solutions and advocate for policies that enable client transitions. Read more here.


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Hazlehurst - Bank of Hazlehurst

James E. (Butch) Kirkley II has been named president, CEO director of the bank. He is replacing Leonard H. Bateman Sr., who is retiring. Read more here.


Greenville, S.C. - United Community Bank

Francie Staub has joined the bank as Chief Marketing Officer. Read more here.


Quitman - Colony Bank

Jordan Robison has been promoted to business banker, AVP for the bank’s Quitman market. Read more here.


Fitzgerald - Colony Bank

Josh F. Dasher has joined the bank as vice president, information security officer and vendor management. Read more here.


Augusta - Ameris Bank

Bennett Bowers and Jason Thornton have joined the bank as commercial bankers. Read more here.


Fayetteville - Ameris Bank

Brandon Sherman has been promoted to regional vice president community development manager. Read more here.


LaGrange - Colony Bank

Joe Little has been promoted to LaGrange market president. Read more here.



Kirkley Staub





Bowers Thornton





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 Katina Prokos.

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