WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Whether in his position as Vice President of Lending for The Westchester Bank or in his volunteer role with Community Capital New York, Bill Merz likes to provide the capital that can help change lives.
“One of my favorite things is hearing the stories of how entrepreneurs start their business,’’ said Merz, a Norwalk, Conn. resident who joined Hawthorne-based Community Capital in 2006 and became Treasurer and Secretary in 2012. “I like to learn how they and why they started. That’s been an enjoyable part of my volunteer position.”
Community Capital New York is a non-profit alternative lender that serves eight counties in the Hudson Valley and Fairfield County in Connecticut. It provides loans that create quality jobs, revitalizes communities and gets residents into affordable homes. The organization helps people reach their American dream by providing them with working capital and financial knowledge.
Just last year alone, for example, Community Capital helped a pair of young men in Yorktown start a hockey company, assisted immigrants from Guatemala with their landscaping business and backed the launch of a brewery in Yonkers.
“It’s amazing to get in on the ground level and watch some of these businesses grow,’’ Merz said. “It’s very rewarding. I remember sitting with a woman who wanted to run her own restaurant. When we approved her, she started to cry with joy. It was that overwhelming. These are people who have invested their time and money to build something special.”
Part of Merz’s excitement in seeing businesses build from the ground up is that it reminds him of the early days at The Westchester Bank. He joined the bank when it opened in 2008.
“I had a folding chair in the corner and I could grasp two of my co-workers on either side of me,’’ Merz said. “When were started we were a $55 million bank with a $14 million loan portfolio. Now it’s a $520 million bank with a $400 million loan portfolio. It’s been fun to build it from the start.”
Merz, a graduate of Fordham University, also enjoys time outside of work with the Westchester County Fordham Alumni Chapter and skiing and golfing with his wife and stepdaughter. The New Jersey native has embraced the Westchester County community and enjoys being a part of The Westchester Bank’s growth.
“We have strong leadership and a supportive board,’’ Merz said. “We’ve been able to position ourselves correctly in the marketplace. Our focus is on relationships and honest communications with our customer. We have a flat hierarchy and committed leadership team that strives to be the market leader.”