Pikes Peak National Bank has built a reputation for serving small businesses and entrepreneurs, and the bank’s president, Robin Roberts, wouldn’t have it any other way.
She believes it’s not only a good business decision but also a good decision for the community, which is fitting for PPNB, a small but long-established community bank in Old Colorado City.
You might know Roberts through her work at the bank, but you might also know her through her work with the radio show she co-hosts, “Saturday Business Magazine,” which airs noon to 1 p.m. each week on KRDO 105.5 FM and 1240 AM.
Roberts took some time this week to talk to the Business Journal about her work with small businesses through the bank and other involvements the greater Colorado Springs community.
Why do you believe it’s important to serve the small business and entrepreneur portion of the market?
We have found that it’s a relatively underserved, and in the case of entrepreneurs, misunderstood, market segment. Small business owners, in my experience, prefer to work with bankers who understand business — not just their business, but business in general.
In addition to wanting traditional banking products and services, they tell me often that they want to work with a bank that is a partner in their growth and success. That requires the ability to provide the right resources and connections for those business owners, and that goes beyond checking accounts and loans.
With entrepreneurs, they tell me that banks won’t even talk to them because they haven’t been in business for a certain number of years. Banks certainly can’t provide venture capital with their depositors’ money, but we have found that there are some entrepreneurs we can help and if we can’t, we know the resources in the community that are there to do so.
In January, you told the Business Journal for a news story that the bank had about $10 million worth of loans in the pipeline. How are things looking now?
We are still seeing steady loan demand. However, we are also experiencing a competitive loan market. Many banks are more liquid than they would like, and the result is increased competition for creditworthy borrowers.
How are community banks in Colorado doing overall these days?
[pullquote]I think we all can agree that maintaining our stormwater infrastructure must be a priority.”[/pullquote]
I think we’ve seen an overall improvement in the performance of community banks in our state over the past couple of years. Community banks provide a unique value to the communities they serve and I believe the recession helped people appreciate that value in a newfound way.
How long have you been hosting the “Saturday Business Magazine” radio show, and what do you like most about doing it?
I have been the host of the show since it was started by the bank in January 2012. Ted Robertson, my co-host, has been with the show since May of last year. The best part of the show is meeting so many of the small business owners in our community and giving them the opportunity to tell the story of their business on the air.
I also have to acknowledge the tremendous number of people in the community who act as resources to small business owners, whether they are nonprofit organizations, volunteers or elected officials who have been on the show.
The point of the show is to educate and provide resources for small business owners. The support and enthusiasm we have received for the show’s mission is encouraging.
You’ve worked on the city’s Stormwater Task Force. Why is this important to you and what are some other issues that you believe should be priorities for Colorado Springs?
I volunteered to work on the Stormwater Task Force as a part of the task force’s “Business Team,” in an effort to look at the ways our stormwater infrastructure can affect not only individual businesses but our business environment as a whole. I am now on the steering committee for the task force. I have learned so much and have tremendous respect for the volunteers, elected officials, city and county employees, and representatives from Colorado Springs Utilities and other organizations who serve with me.
After the flooding this summer, I think we all can agree that maintaining our stormwater infrastructure must be a priority. It is my hope that we can work as a region to define the priorities and come up with an effective solution that includes input from all stakeholders.
Our city needs to continue working to improve our business culture, to include fostering a vibrant entrepreneurial community. There are several organizations working with our entrepreneurs to encourage start-up growth and I think the business community should do what it can to support organic business activity. A vibrant business culture is attractive to businesses who may want to relocate here, and brings with it the amenities that we all enjoy such as increased support for the arts, creativity and innovation and of course, a larger tax base.