Pilot Bank shares tips for residents and businesses to navigate this pandemic


It’s no secret that these are tough times for small businesses across the country. Here in Tampa, and in cities across the region, a groundswell of support through the One Tampa fund, mass takeout campaigns, and major donations from the likes of the Vinik Family Foundation, The Glazer Family, and local heroes like Titus O’Neil have converged to aid and stimulate our local economy. We at That’s So Tampa thought it apropos to seek the advice of those in the financial sector who might know other avenues available for small businesses and individuals looking to navigate through these difficult waters. So we reached out to a bank we’ve trusted for years, Pilot Bank.

Pilot Bank currently operates 6 locations in the Tampa Bay region. It’s a full service operation providing retail and commercial services to individuals, businesses, and institutions in the greater Tampa Bay and Lakeland, Florida areas. Chartered by the state of Florida in 1987, Pilot has served Tampa Bay as a community bank for over 30 years, growing to more than $300 million in assets.

They’re here to help community members navigate COVID-19 loan relief options so small businesses can stay up during this pandemic, and thrive long after it’s over.

Currently, Pilot Bank (along with other banks in Tampa Bay) is providing federally backed forgivable loans to eligible business customers through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

We spoke with Javier Jorge, Vice President and SBA Director at Pilot Bank, for some clear answers during this difficult time.

For updates regarding the current situation, recommend your visit Pilot Bank’s website, and Facebook page.

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Is it advisable to try and take out a new line of credit to keep paying employees?

Several companies are drawing up their current Lines of Credit, but it will be difficult to acquire a new one now.  

What do you expect to happen to interest rates in the coming months?

Stay LOW, we have an interest environment that is as low as it was during the Great Recession.  We are at the bottom.

Does the bank plan to offer special rates/programs for small business owners?

The Bank has adjusted their pricing to match the current low interest rate environment.

Do you have any advice to those who have been laid off recently?

Apply for Unemployment ASAP and stay in contact with your former employer.  Most recessions spring up from a Market Breakdown in the Economy (Credit, Housing, Energy Etc.) This is the first time since 1918 that a global crisis has arisen because of a pandemic.  The main difference is the speed and severity of the recession, it’s like someone slammed the brakes on the car.  The hope is, once the pandemic is under-control, we can pick up where we left off. 

How will the bank work with business owners, customers, and homeowners to help them through this time?

The name of the game is all online, email or telephone for the foreseeable future.

Are bank branches still open to customers? Are cash deposits/withdrawals still advisable at this time?

Drive through and ATMs are 100% in service. 

Visit Pilot Bank’s website for a full list of locations, and to inquire about adjusted hours of operation.

Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of thatssotampa.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@thatssotampa.com.