Chapter News

Commercial Lending Challenge

On October 29th, the West Michigan RMA Chapter sponsored the 7th Annual Commercial Lending Challenge at the Seideman College of Business at Grand Valley State University.  This year’s Challenge had 33 competitors (comprising 13 teams) from seven local college and universities:  Aquinas College, Calvin University, Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Northwood University, and Western Michigan University.  This was our most successful event ever in terms of the number of teams competing as well as the scholarship money awarded.


Teams were provided with a case regarding the expansion of an existing borrower’s business through the purchase of new equipment.  Teams made presentations to a “loan committee” and a “borrower” with their recommendations.  Presentations were scored based on technical evaluation and presentation quality.  Teams answered questions from the judges regarding their results.


Through sponsorships from the RMA Foundation as well as RMA-Member banks including Comerica Bank, First National Bank of Michigan, Grand River Bank, Horizon Bank, Independent Bank, Macatawa Bank, Mercantile Bank, and Old National Bank, we were able to award $8,250 in scholarship funds to the top five teams.  Over the seven years of the challenge, we have awarded nearly $48,000 in scholarships thanks to our sponsors over the years and the RMA Foundation. 


We would like to thank our judges for participating:  Kara Urschel (Mercantile Bank), Traci Courter (Mercantile Bank), Denny Briggs (Horizon Bank), Jill Fodrocy (Mercantile Bank), and Doug Holtrop (Mercantile Bank).  Additionally, we had assistance from Vicky Baker (Mercantile Bank) and Chris Putnam (Mercantile Bank) as timers during the competition.


We would also like to thank our commercial lending mentors who taught the student teams about commercial lending:  Julie Steinbeck (Grand River Bank), Vanessa Jebb-Swanson (Huntington National Bank), Adam Voss (Mercantile Bank), Theron Barbour (Independent Bank), Russ Mathews (Horizon Bank), Jeff Proctor (Mercantile Bank), and Jennifer Warning (First National Bank of Michigan). 


I would also like to convey our gratitude to the team at Mercantile Bank for revamping our YouTube Commercial Lending Instructional Videos!  They were excellent and cited by the contestants as being particularly helpful.  Chris Putnam, Ryan Henderson, Paul Cormendy, Marcus Brussee, Nick Thompson, Patrick Burds and Ben Ribbe (all from Mercantile Bank) put these videos together.


We want to thank our university contacts for promoting this activity and helping their teams learn more about commercial lending:  Leonard VanDrunen (Calvin University), Brian Ran (Northwood University), Tom Olive (Aquinas College), Brad Taylor (Central Michigan University), Angela Zondervan (Grand Valley State University), Doug Iverson (Hope College), and Wenling Lu (Western Michigan University). 


Finally, I would like to thank the committee members for going above and beyond to make this event a success:  Paul Cormendy (Mercantile Bank), Matt Wezeman (Mercantile Bank), and Alex Pominville (Independent Bank).


We look forward to the next challenge in 2023!