First Reliance Bank hosts roundtable discussion at Learning Center in Florence

July 15, 2020

Participants included Congressman Tom Rice, Fred Green with the SCBA, and 13 other small business owners

On July 14, First Reliance Bank hosted a roundtable discussion led by Rick Saunders, President and CEO, at its Learning Center in Florence to talk about the South Carolina banking community’s support of small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Congressman Tom Rice and Fred Green, President and CEO of the S.C. Bankers Association led the panel of 13 small business owners in the Florence area.

The discussion focused on each businesses experience with applying for the SBA Payment Protection Program (PPP) funds and the role the loan had in helping their businesses survive as non-essential businesses were mandated to close.

“I had just financed a new building with First Reliance Bank and we were open one day before we learned we had to close down on seeing regular patients,” said Dr. Bryan Patterson. “We wouldn’t have made it without the help of a PPP loan. I can’t speak loud enough for it.”

Vernessa Sansbury, co-owner Pete’s Barber Shop said, “The SBA PPP loan helped cover our rent and we would’ve been in debt without the relief it provided while we were shut during Covid.”

“When Covid first hit we lost half of our students we supported because of family concerns to not socialize and stay safe. Within a week after that we were down to just a handful of employees. We had to act quickly and change face-to-face communications to online communications with our students and their families. We were challenged to find a new ways to support children, feed them, and communicate with them. The PPP loan allowed us to focus on supporting children and families in the community along with helping us with our non-profit expenses. We can’t say enough about this program and the support it provided to our community,” said Neil Zimmerman, Director, Florence Boys and Girls Club.

Fred Green, President and CEO of the S.C. Bankers Association expressed his gratitude following the panel session, “I’m so proud of our SC banking community in their support of small businesses and their employees. They dropped everything to handle the huge inflow of Payroll Protection Program loans and funded almost $6 billion during the last two months.”

The objective of the panel session was to review how the SC banking community handled the needs of small businesses during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and to assess what could be done differently if we are faced with a similar crisis in the future. Congressman Tom Rice will be visiting several financial institutions throughout South Carolina to conduct these roundtable discussions.

“Thank you to Congressman Rice for his leadership and partnership. We are committed to supporting our customers and feel it’s important to connect them with our congressional leaders so that they have an opportunity to discuss the impact of the SBA PPP and the ongoing challenges they face with their businesses during these unprecedented times,” said Rick Saunders, First Reliance Bank President and CEO

Small Business attendees:

• Brice Elvington, Dentist Office Manager at Florence Pediatric Dentistry
• Tony Odom, Pee Dee Auto Sales
• Dr. Joe Griffin, Advanced Dental Center
• Dr. Bryan Patterson, DMD PA
• Hunter Morgan, Naturally Outdoors
• Dennis Ward, F&W Architects
• Mike Hanna, Hanna Engineering
• Nancy Warring, CPA
• Jim Stewart, Insurance
• Neil Zimmerman, Director, Florence Boys and Girls Club
• Tracy Clarke , World Travel
• Vernessa Sansbury, Pete’s Barber Shop
• Marvin James, Genesis Landscapes

Congressman Rice talked about a bill being presented in Congress this week that could give some relief to businesses for PPE and employee safety expenses. He also listened to concerns businesses have about understanding and completing the SBA PPP loan forgiveness paperwork when the criteria is finalized. He thanked each business for sharing their stories and taking time to provide feedback that is needed as our communities move forward to recovery from this pandemic.



Founded in 1999, First Reliance Bancshares, Inc. (OTC: FSRL.OB), is based in Florence, South Carolina and has assets of approximately $761 million. The Company employs more than 150 professionals and has locations throughout South Carolina and central North Carolina. First Reliance has redefined community banking with a commitment to making customers lives better, its founding principle. Customers of the company have given it a 90% customer satisfaction rating well above the bank industry average of 81%. First Reliance is also one of three companies throughout South Carolina to receive the Best Places To Work in South Carolina award all 14 years since the program began. We believe that this recognition confirms that our associates are engaged and committed to our brand and the communities we serve. In addition to offering a full range of personalized community banking products and services for individuals, small businesses, and corporations, First Reliance offers two unique community-customers programs, which include: Hometown Heroes, a package of benefits for those serving our communities and Check N Save, an outreach program for the unbanked or under-banked. We also offer a full suite of  digital banking services, a Customer Service Guaranty, a Mortgage Service Guaranty, and are open on most traditional holidays. Additional information about the Company is available on the Company’s web site at