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Byline Bank Recognizes Oak Park Business Owners During National Small Business Week

Underscoring its commitment to the success of local communities, Byline Bank shares stories from some Oak Park-area business banking customers in honor of National Small Business Week, September 13-17. Business owners from James Anthony Salon, The Irish Shop and Silverland Bakery depict resilience, ingenuity and commitment during a uniquely challenging period for local retail businesses.

As the #1 Small Business Administration (SBA) lender in Illinois and the #2 SBA lender by volume nationally, Byline Bank understands the needs of the small business sector, offering specialized programs and advisory services to this often-overlooked, yet crucial segment of the local economy.

“Small businesses are not only an economic engine for our communities, but a cultural driver as well,” said Susie Goldschmidt, Byline Bank Oak Park Market President. “These businesses and our other customers in Oak Park exemplify what it means to be invested in the community and meet challenges with grace and perseverance.”

James Anthony Salon – Uplifting Employees and the Community

Jim and Tina Salerno, owners of James Anthony Salon, believe in empowering their customers, their staff and community. In 2020, when COVID-19 stay-at-home orders closed their salon for three months, early guidance from Byline got them access to critical Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The funds allowed them to maintain payroll and a support network for stylists and staff during the shutdown and reopen with the flexibility and ability to meet customers’ needs.

“Byline has been a huge help with COVID and prior to the pandemic,” said Jim Salerno. “It’s nice to be with a smaller bank, not a big conglomerate. Byline offers a high degree of personalization and customer service you don’t see any more.”

Outside of the pandemic-related offerings, they credit Byline for bringing financial planning and wellness information right to their employees in the salon and contributing to their philosophy that, “When people come first, success will follow.” In addition to being supportive employers, the Salernos are active in local philanthropy, providing services and financial support to Hephzibah Children’s Association, a therapeutic children’s home, and Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence intervention agency.

The Irish Shop – Creating a Sense of Place

Import food and gift purveyor The Irish Shop has been a mainstay of the Oak Park retail community for 30 years, and owner Anne August prizes a banking experience that offers the same stability and connection to its customers that she offers to hers. She made the switch to Byline two years ago to follow Goldschmidt, a trusted advisor to her business. “Suzie Goldschmidt is a great advocate for any small business. She helped us get our PPP loan twice last year. We couldn’t have survived without it,” said August.

During the onset of the pandemic, The Irish Shop was able to stay open as an essential business because of its food license. The store offered one-on-one appointments, delivery and curbside pickup to continue to serve customers. Now business has rebounded as Oak Park residents have returned to shop their favorite local retailers in person. “People are supportive of small businesses in the area, it’s important to our community as a whole,” said August.

Silverland Bakery – Celebrating Family and Togetherness

Silverland Bakery was founded by former structural engineer and Iranian immigrant Athena Uslander in Forest Park in 1983. One of the first commercial bakers of brownies, the multigenerational business has hand crafted brownies, old-fashioned bakery bars, cookies, treats and customized products for wholesale customers and online, mail-order and retail consumers for nearly 40 years. Byline spoke with Athena’s son Cameron Uslander about how the business persevered as its restaurant, foodservice and catering wholesale business declined during the pandemic.

“Having a point person at Byline provided us with personalized attention and helped us realize a PPP loan was within reach, and the fact that we qualified was crucial to our business,” he said. “Susie was also very helpful and active in promoting our business through the gift card program.”

In 2020, Byline purchased $15,000 in gift cards to small local businesses in Oak Park to provide additional sales support during  a challenging pandemic period and to help draw other customers to these establishments as pandemic restrictions subsided. Over the past year, the increased awareness and interest in the retail business helped Silverland Bakery persist, and now as a more typical holiday season approaches, Uslander says they are looking forward to offering catering and gift baskets for family gatherings and corporate events.

Byline Propels Oak Park and Chicagoland Small Businesses

During the 2021 National Small Business Week, the Small Business Administration spotlights the “resilience of America’s entrepreneurs and the renewal of the small business  economy” – something that Byline applauds every day. As a leading small business bank, Byline believes small businesses and community organizations are the heart of our communities and help our neighborhoods grow.

In 2020 Byline provided $14.8 million* in PPP loans to the Oak Park-River Forest area community, $12.8 million in financing for affordable housing initiatives in the Oak Park and Austin neighborhood of Chicago, and an additional $90,000 in sponsorships and other support to the area.