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BB&T, now Truist Executives Discuss Bank’s Commitment to Lehigh Valley Community

By Colin McEvoy on October 16, 2020

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham interviews BB&T, now Truist’s Travis Rhodes (center), Regional President Delaware Valley/Lehigh Valley Region, and Arthur Dorn (right), Lehigh Valley Market President.

When the federal government launched the Paycheck Protection Program to provide loans for small businesses to keep workers on the payroll during the coronavirus pandemic, BB&T, now Truist became the fourth-largest producer of PPP loans in the nation, providing more than $700 million in assistance to more than 2,500 companies.

During an interview with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) on Oct. 13, the bank’s new Lehigh Valley leadership team said this is indicative of the importance BB&T, now Truist places on investing in its communities, particularly here in the Lehigh Valley.

Travis Rhodes (left) and Arthur Dorn (right)

“To me, this area is one of our hubs,” said Travis Rhodes, Regional President Delaware Valley/Lehigh Valley Region. “So it’s important for us to continue to invest in that and grow that, and continue to be seen as a corporate partner that can bring a lot to the Lehigh Valley.”’

Rhodes and Arthur Dorn, Lehigh Valley Market President at BB&T, now Truist, were interviewed in the fifth entry in a weekly series LVEDC is conducting with new corporate leaders at some of Lehigh Valley’s leading companies and largest employers.

“Since 2019, we’ve had about 15 major employers or companies in the Lehigh Valley bring in new leadership, probably the most significant period of change in those who are running our largest institutions, companies, and employers in the Lehigh Valley in 30 years,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham, who conducted the interview.

The Lehigh Valley Health Network is the presenting sponsor for the series, with Capital Blue Cross as the premier sponsor. Gold sponsors include BB&T, now Truist, Fitzpatrick, Lentz & Bubba, and PenTeleData. Crayola and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation are event sponsors for the series; Follett LLC is the interview sponsor, Countess Communications is the production sponsor, and ArtsQuest is the venue sponsor.

New videos are released each Thursday at 3 p.m. on LVEDC’s Facebook page. The full video interview with Rhodes and Dorn can be viewed below.

Current and previous archived videos can be found here and on LVEDC’s YouTube channel. The next interview subject on Oct. 22 will be Pat Turner, President of FLSmidth.

Rhodes and Dorn discussed the history of BB&T in Lehigh Valley. The bank purchased Susquehanna Bank in 2015, then National Penn Bank in 2016, before merging with SunTrust in 2019. The partnership will allow BB&T, now Truist to provide a community bank model, but with the power of a large bank around it, they said.

“Bringing these two organizations together has increased our ability to be able to serve our clients in a more strategic, advisory capacity,” Rhodes said “It allows us to bring some things that are typically only given to Wall Street-type clients down into the middle market and into Main Street.”

The two discussed their predictions for the future of the banking industry over the next few years, and how it has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. They also highlighted the bank’s investment in technology, and why Lehigh Valley’s robust manufacturing sector fits well with their business model.

BB&T, now Truist has invested more than $50 million into COVID relief, including about $500,000 in Lehigh Valley alone, Rhodes said. The company also gave one-time bonuses to its employees to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, as well as providing them free child care.

“Our whole reason for existence is to inspire and build better lives and communities,” Rhodes said. “To do that, you’ve got to invest into that, and so as an organization we’ve invested deeply and continue to invest deeply into our communities.”

Other upcoming interviews in the LVEDC executive video series will include:

ArtsQuest provided access to indoor space large enough for safe distancing for the interviews. There is no audience for the interviews, which will adhere to public health and social distancing standards.

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