My term as WBA Chair is certainly going out with a bang, not a whimper. These past few months, as the nation has grappled with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, Wisconsin bankers have stepped up and demonstrated the qualities and commitment that have kept me in banking for over 35 years.

Before this crisis and in the midst of it, we have shown compassion for our customers even as we work long hours to help them weather this storm, and I’m confident we will continue to do so after this crisis has passed—which it will. My main goal during my term as chair was to encourage more of my fellow bankers to speak up and tell our industry’s story, the story about the good we do in our communities and how we help grow our state’s economy.

The adventure with PPP loans gave us the opportunity to do just that, without ever saying a word. From multiple national news outlets, both print and media, to WEDC Secretary-Designee Missy Hughes, to the business owner down the street... I’ve seen and heard the compliments to community banks from all of them.

Banks were designated as “essential services” under Governor Tony Evers “Safer-At-Home” executive order, so dedicated bankers across the state continued to serve both consumer and commercial clients, sometimes working from home and sometimes from within the office. We received that designation because a bank is something no community can do well without. Not only do we provide financing and a safe place for people and businesses to save, we provide guidance and support to our customers during some of their most emotional and difficult decisions. For example, a home is the largest purchase most people will ever make, and our mortgage lenders guide their customers through that exciting, stressful process.

As our state and nation emerge from this pandemic and its many challenges, I encourage you not to stop telling our story. We have always been dedicated to our customers and our communities, and we will continue to be.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels and all the WBA team for their tireless support and guidance throughout this past year, and especially for your hard work and dedication during the height of this crisis. I've heard from many of you about the great work they have done in these stressful and fast-moving times. Keeping up with all of the information and changing rules and regulations would have been impossible without the hard work of WBA, and it has been my honor to serve our industry alongside Rose and the entire WBA team. I also wish to thank my bank and my family for their support and patience with the extra time this position sometimes requires. Finally, I wish to thank all of you for your confidence and support. It has been my honor to serve.

Meloy is CEO of First Business Bank, Madison and WBA Chair.