GRAND FORKS, ND – Darryl Jorgenson left life in the big city to feel more at home with finance and the family farm.
If there’s anyone who fully appreciates what it means to take a leap of faith, it’s Darryl Jorgenson. In 2011, the then 45-year-old and his wife left their stable, successful life in Philadelphia, PA, including his high-level finance auditing position with the U.S. Department of Defense, to be closer to something that mattered more – family.
Jorgenson’s wife was born and raised in Philly, and he had spent 17 years there as part of his 20-year career in the U.S. Navy. For all intents and purposes, they were quite happy in the City of Brotherly Love, but the move back home was worth it. In addition to being thankful for the opportunity to be closer to loved ones, the two had always known there was something special about the Red River Valley.
It’s an area they had visited countless times over the years. Jorgenson, his wife and their three sons had created beautiful memories at his family’s 150-year-old farm in Fisher, MN, which is roughly 15 miles southeast of Grand Forks. So when Jorgenson’s mom made the difficult decision to sell the farm, it was even more reason to come back home. They cared about helping her make the transition.
“We helped my mom by buying the farm, updating the property during that time and ultimately making a decision to move into the town of Grand Forks,” says Jorgenson, Assistant Vice President, Business Lender at Gate City Bank. “At the time, I had no idea it would also lead me to discovering my dream position at Gate City Bank. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Jorgenson earned his bachelor’s in accounting from Gwynedd Mercy University, and later an MBA in management from Western International University, honing those skills during his time assisting the U.S. government. He has a mind for financial problem solving – and as he’s learned in the more than three years he’s worked at Gate City Bank – a heart for small businesses.
This was especially evident when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world unexpectedly. Gate City Bank’s locations, including the Grand Forks team, were inundated with calls from business customers trying to navigate the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) amid the crisis.
PPP loans were established as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. They’ve provided small businesses with the resources they need to maintain payroll, hire back employees who may have been laid off and cover applicable overhead.
The road ahead was uncertain. No one knew how long the pandemic was going to last or what the overall impact on the economy was going to be. When Jorgenson and other Gate City Bank business bankers suddenly found themselves on the front lines, they took a leap of faith to help customers.
“The PPP loan process was obviously something that nobody had ever gone through, so we were all thinking on our feet to help these business owners,” Jorgenson says. “It was just an effort to continuously help the next person on the phone.”
The program was incredibly successful in North Dakota, which had the highest concentration of PPP funds per private sector worker than any other state during the first round of loans in 2020. During that same period, Gate City Bank processed more loans than any other bank in North Dakota (loans under $150,000).
Thanks to dedicated team members like Jorgenson, Gate City Bank ended up helping more than 2,100 businesses in 252 industries, resulting in a $74 million overall impact.
“We just wanted customers to know we’re here to help them as best as we can,” he says. “Hairdressers, contractors, bartenders and so many other customers were understandably scared when their industries were interrupted, so we did everything we could to show them support.”
It’s been more than two years since COVID-19 hit, and as Darryl glances out his lobby-facing office window, he regularly sees many of the business customers he’s helped with PPP loans. Oftentimes, they’ll meet his gaze, share a friendly smile and pop their head in to say hello.
“These are people I had never met before processing PPP loans, and now we’re friends,” Jorgenson says. “It’s wonderful.”
Since joining Gate City Bank, Jorgenson has saved the day with PPP loans, gained access to countless mentorship opportunities and enjoyed a friendly work atmosphere like no other. But what he has truly appreciated the most is being able to play a unique role in helping customers, communities and his fellow team members create a better way of life.
“At Gate City Bank, we genuinely just want to help people,” Jorgenson says. “We love to see them grow.”
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