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Melody McCrea has worked at M&T Bank for nearly eight years, and her passion for helping customers has never waned. As a relationship manager with M&T Bank’s Women & Minority Owned Business Banking group, McCrae said she thrives on providing opportunities that bolster targeted businesses. “I love my role so much because it’s like that thing where your passion meets your everyday job,” McCrae told the Baltimore Times.
“My group focuses primarily on women and minority owned businesses, so we provide resources for them. We’re just really intentional about seeking out and providing resources for them.”
Among the new initiatives is the M&T Bank Spotlight Shop, where some of the bank’s Baltimore-based small business clients are featured.
In 2019, the pop-up shop proved successful, welcoming almost 174,000 visitors and boosting participants’ sales and clientele. Since then, officials at the bank have noted that 2020 has brought its own set of challenges, and COVID- 19 has significantly impacted small businesses.
While M&T provided capital through PPP loans, the bank committed to an in- novative approach to boosting small business beyond providing capital.
This year, the Spotlight Shop moved online, and more than a dozen of the state’s small businesses are featured on M&T Bank’s Virtual Spotlight Shop on a rotating basis. Currently, Hersh’s of South Baltimore is featured.
Shoppers are driven to the website through digital advertising to generate more revenue and strengthen the vitality of the participating businesses. M&T also plans to live virtual stream concerts, featuring homegrown musicians to attract visitors.
“This year has been really tough because you know the pandemic and these circumstances, so what we did was we made the Spotlight Shop, virtual,” McCrae stated.
“Not only do these businesses have so much exposure through the Baltimore area but throughout our entire footprint,” she said.
“They are really exposed to new potential customers, which is really, really cool. It’s just another way that M&T can support our businesses during these difficult times.”
The Spotlight Shop’s mission is to shine a spotlight on Baltimore’s local businesses and create a space for the community. The shop was open for six months, and every two weeks, a new small business would take over the shop to sell their products and promote their brand. While things looked a little different this year, M&T Bank officials said they are proud to continue that mission virtually and highlight even more of some of the best businesses that Baltimore has to offer.
“I was just so excited to hear that we were able to pivot this and make it virtual because last year was such a great ooyear for so many small businesses,” McCrae proclaimed.
“To get so much more exposure and to be able to do that again this year virtually I feel like we’re impacting even a larger portion of the community that is so, so important to me, and I’m grateful and happy to work for organizations who care about what’s important.”
Visit the virtual spotlight shop at https://www3.mtb.com/spotlightshop.