Tacoma-based Commencement Bank is heightening service for small businesses and other government-backed loan recipients through a new division for government-guaranteed lending, the bank recently announced.

Jeff Mizukami, senior vice president of government-guaranteed lending. (Photo courtesy of Commencement Bank.)

Jeff Mizukami, senior vice president of government-guaranteed lending, leads the new division, which opened just before the government’s COVID-19 lending programs. He has more than 20 years of experience building government-guaranteed lending portfolios for community banks and brings more than 32 years of commercial lending experience to Commencement Bank. He has worked extensively with loan programs offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and various state and local commercial lending guarantee programs.

The department also includes Wyndie Dwyer, assistant vice president and loan administrator. Dwyer, a 30-year banking veteran, recently supported the bank’s efforts through the application process for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

For two months following the COVID-19 economic shutdown, Commencement Bank processed more than 475 applications totaling almost $113 million in relief for small businesses with almost 9,000 employees, it said.

“We were lucky to find a seasoned lender like Jeff to help us bring our government-guaranteed lending division to fruition at such a critical time for our small-business clients and community,” John Manolides, the bank’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “With small businesses making up much of our local economy, we believe clients need access to knowledgeable bankers who specialize in these funding programs. Working with someone who focuses solely on these types of loans improves the process on all sides and enhances the experience of our clients.”

The bank, with $395.4 million in assets at the end of its first quarter, serves Pierce County, South King County, and Thurston County with branches in Tacoma, Olympia, Auburn, and Enumclaw.