Montecito Bank & Trust doled out $1 million to nonprofits throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties at its 14th annual Community Dividends event.
The largest financial institution based in Santa Barbara County rung in the season of giving by providing grants to a record-high 203 area nonprofits that primarily serve low- and moderate-income individuals.
“We do this because we recognize and support the invaluable role that all you nonprofits play in enhancing the quality of life for all segments of our society,” MB&T owner and Chairman Michael Towbes told 286 people on Nov. 21 at the Coral Casino at the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Montecito. “We do it to encourage other organizations to follow our footsteps and we do it to encourage our employees to volunteer and support these worthy organizations. Most importantly, we do it because it is the right thing to do.”
MB&T President and CEO Janet Garufis recalled her first Community Dividends event soon after she joined the bank 12 years ago.
“I can remember looking around me and feeling incredibly proud,” she said. “I knew in that moment that when I accepted Mr. Towbes’ invitation to join the bank, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.”
Because MB&T is a subchapter S corporation owned by Towbes, the bank can pass on its profits to its owner. Towbes has donated what would’ve been paid in taxes — $14 million over the past decade and a half — directly back to the communities it serves.
Bank employees also donated more than 1,800 hours in 2016 by serving on boards, offering financial expertise including the bank’s cybersecurity and financial literacy for seniors programs, fundraising and volunteering.
MB&T recently surpassed Wells Fargo as the top lender in Santa Barbara County for small business loans of $1 million or less. Through October of this year, it has nearly
$50 million in loan commitments, nearly half of which were to businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenues.
It has also provided $9.4 million in loans to fund the purchase or construction of more than 85 housing units for low- and moderate-income families in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.