Welcome to the GRBblog! Get to know GRB, Rochester's only locally owned and managed commercial bank. A commercial bank, but also a community bank, with an entrepreneurial spirit about everything we do. We're committed to Growing Rochester Business and making our community a better place to live and work.

The GRBblog is where we post bank news and information, stories about the great organizations we support, and share relevant local and national business news.

First-time Homebuyer Mortgage Program Launches for 2022 – Offers Up To $10,000 in Grants

Homebuyer Dream Program logo

As a bank, GRB is able to work with the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York (FHLBNY) to provide grant assistance to qualified first-time homebuyers. The Homebuyer Dream ProgramTM provides grants of up to $10,000 towards the purchase of a home in New York.  This is a program that is only available to banks, mortgage brokers are not able to access grant funds for this program.

The FHLBNY uses an allotment program, providing lenders with a set amount of funding.

The program begins accepting applications for funds on March 21, 2022. The program ends on Nov. 30, 2022.

Homebuyer Dream Program* (HDP) eligibility requirements

  • Must be first-time homebuyers**
  • Reside and purchase a home in New York
  • Have a household income at or below 80% of area median income (i.e., in Monroe and Onondaga county, 1 or 2 person households, up to $69,680. In households of more than 3 people, the maximum income level is now $80,132)
  • Complete an accredited homeownership course
  • Meet the income and credit requirements for the program
  • Have the minimum equity contribution of $1,000 toward purchase of the home
  • Remain in the home for five years or repay a portion of the grant funds back to FHLBNY

Important information

  • Up to $9,500 in grant funding is available to be applied to down payment and closing costs
  • Up to $500 in grant funding is available to offset the cost of the homeownership course

Find out if you qualify

For more information, contact our mortgage professionals.

Please note, the information in this post refers to the 2022 HDP. The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York assesses the HDP on an annual basis and the program is subject to change. Please go to our Mortgage Loans page for more information on the HDP and other grant and lending options.

* Homebuyer Dream Program is a trademark of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.

** First-time homebuyer as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), is an individual who meets any of the following criteria:

  • An individual who has had no ownership in a principal residence during the 3-year period ending on the date of the purchase of the property. This includes a spouse (if meets the above test, they are considered first-time homebuyers).
  • A single parent who has only owned a principal residence with a former spouse while married.
  • Individual who is a displaced homemaker and has only owned a principal residence with a spouse.
  • An individual who has only owned a principal residence not permanently affixed to a permanent foundation in accordance with applicable regulations.
  • An individual who has only owned a property that was not in compliance with state, local or model building codes and could not be brought into compliance for less than the cost of constructing a permanent structure.

Improve Your Cyber Readiness

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has included cyber-attacks. In the wake of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and our allies throughout the world, every individual and organization should take additional steps to improve their cyber readiness and help mitigate the risk of a cybersecurity threat.

GRB’s Regulatory Compliance and Cyber Readiness

Hacker conducting cyber-attacks on organizations around the world

Protecting your information and accounts is a top priority at Genesee Regional Bank (GRB). The bank has 24/7/365 automated monitoring platforms to detect cyber threats. Our operations, risk management, and IT teams are all engaged in additional awareness and prevention activities. Management receives briefings regularly.

As a financial institution, GRB is regulated by both the New York State Department of Financial Services and The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). As such, both organizations require GRB to have policies and programs in place to mitigate risk as much as possible. GRB also complies with New York State’s Cybersecurity Requirements for Financial Services Companies, one of the most comprehensive cybersecurity regulations in the country. 

Additionally, we conduct external and internal penetration and social engineering tests and provide ongoing training to employees. We also consistently monitor communications and recommendations from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and take action as needed. 

Consumer Cybersecurity Tips

In addition, we are asking all of our customers to be more aware of their cyber surroundings and take extra steps to protect their personal financial information.

  1. Beware of phishing attacks from fraudulent not-for-profit organizations. Always make donations through established and reputable organizations.
  2. Change and create more complex passwords for critical apps and systems.
  3. Ensure your personal anti-virus and anti-malware programs are current.
  4. If you haven’t set up automated notifications and alerts on your bank account(s), it would be a good time to enact those additional protections.
  5. Avoid conducting banking and financial transactions on public WiFi.
  6. Report any suspected fraudulent activities on your accounts immediately. If you believe you may have been the victim of fraud on your GRB account, you can call us or submit a report 24/7/365 to the Fraud Reporting page on our website.
  7. Additional free cybersecurity resources are available from the Federal Trade Commission and

If you have questions, please contact us at one of our branch locations.

GRB Leaders Named to Power 100 List

Photo of E. Philip Saunders, GRB Founder and Chairman.
GRB Founder and Chairman E. Philip Saunders

We are proud to announce that GRB Founder and Chairman E. Philip Saunders and President and CEO Philip L. Pecora were both named to the Rochester Business Journal’s Power 100 List for 2022. The Power 100 recognizes community leaders making a positive impact on the Greater Rochester region.

Phil Pecora, president and CEO Leadership Team Genesee Regional Bank GRB
President and CEO Philip L. Pecora

According to RBJ Associate Editor and Publisher Ben Jacobs, “As with last year, the mix of industries represented is no surprise.”

“The health care industry and the nonprofit sector, which are heavily intertwined in Rochester, played critical roles in helping our community get through two years of COVID-19 and many leaders from these areas appear on this list.

“Banking and finance, education, law, manufacturing, technology, and real estate and construction also have a significant presence here and in our local economy.”

Jacobs goes on to note, “We are optimistic that the people and organizations listed here will play a large role in helping Rochester continue to move forward and shape its ‘new normal.’”

Power 100 logo

Saunders and partner Dan Gullace founded GRB in 1996. Their goal was to re-establish a community bank presence and grow small business in the Rochester area. Since that time the bank has continued on a consistent growth path, increasing its assets more than ten-fold since 2003. 

Under Pecora’s leadership, GRB spent the last two years focusing on bringing financial stability to small businesses and consumers. The bank supported the small business community during the Paycheck Protection Program. It also earned a spot as the top U.S. Small Business Administration lender in the Rochester region for the second year in a row.

We are proud of GRB’s community commitment and proud to have Saunders’ and Pecora’s efforts recognized as part of the Power 100.

Read more about the Power 100 on the RBJ website.

Congratulations, Phil and Phil!

Identity Theft Awareness Week

Identity Theft Awareness week graphic with the FTC website:

This week is Identity Theft Awareness Week. Identity thieves have been busier than ever during the pandemic. Scammers are out to steal personal information and use it to apply for credit, unemployment benefits, file taxes, buy things, or get medical services – on your dime.

The FTC reports that the median amount of money lost to identity theft is $800. Unfortunately, 21% of identity victims reported losing more than $20,000 to identity thieves in 2020.

The Federal Trade Commission has assembled a number of resources to help consumers learn more about trending issues in identity theft and how to keep their information safe and secure.

Identity Theft Can Take a Number of Forms

Scammers continue to find new ways to find and use your personal information. The FTC has resources to help prevent specific types of identity theft:

How To Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

Learn what child identity theft is and how to detect it. Find out ways to protect your child’s personal information and how to take action if someone steals your child’s identity.

What To Know About Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts

Credit freezes and fraud alerts can protect you from identity theft or prevent further misuse of stolen personal information. Learn what they do and how to place them.

What To Know About Identity Theft

Learn what it is, how to protect yourself, and how to know if someone stole your identity.

What To Know About Medical Identity Theft

Learn what medical identity theft is. Understand the ways to protect yourself and know if someone is using your medical information.

What To Know About Tax Identity Theft

Learn what tax identity theft is, what you can do to guard against it, and what to do if it happens to you.

Business Identity Theft

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), identity theft can also be a serious threat to business, partnership, estate, and trust filers. Learn how to protect your business and employees from thieves trying to steal sensitive information. Once they have the information, they can use it to file a fraudulent tax return for a refund or to commit other crimes.

Need Help? Get a Personalized Plan from the FTC

The FTC also provides the website. The site offers consumers who are victims of identity theft with a way to report their issues and receive a personalized recovery plan.

We hope you’ll spend some time looking over the resources from the FTC and IRS. Take extra time to think about ways to secure personal and business data during Identity Theft Awareness Week.

GRB’s Pecora Named to Power 30 Banking & Finance List

Phil Pecora, president and CEO Leadership Team Genesee Regional Bank GRB
President and CEO Philip Pecora

Congratulations to Genesee Regional Bank’s (GRB) President and CEO Philip Pecora on being named to the Rochester Business Journal’s (RBJ) Power 30 Banking & Finance 2021 list.

From the RBJ Power 30 Banking & Finance article, “The people on this list have helped Rochester’s banking and finance industry reimagine itself to serve customers virtually, keep businesses open and keep families in their homes. They have pushed innovation forward to deal with the challenges of COVID-19 and have led the way through a period of tremendous uncertainty.”

Performing in a pandemic

Under Pecora’s leadership, GRB provided 893 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans throughout the pandemic. This included supporting dozens of companies that could not complete loans with other banks.

“Last year took everything we knew as a bank and turned it on its side. But the upside of being a nimble organization like GRB is that last year really helped us leapfrog ahead in a number of key areas,” said Pecora. “We looked for ways to provide customers and employees with changes that were positive. I know our employees and customers never doubted our commitment to them and to this community.”

Building on our strengths

According to Pecora, one of the key’s to GRB’s continued growth is the bank’s unique focus on the Rochester community.

“As a banker, I get to see firsthand the innovative spirit that makes the Rochester community a great place to live and work. I’m a Rochester native and I’m proud of how this community continues to transform itself,” said Pecora. “We’ve grown from 17 employees to more than 160 during my tenure and we have been the top SBA lender in Rochester for the last three years. Knowing that GRB is part of the stories of so many of the region’s businesses really reinforces the importance of community banking in our region.”

In the last decade, GRB has consistently appeared on the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Top 100 list and the Best Companies to Work for in New York list.

In 2020, Standard & Poor Global Market Intelligence named GRB one of the “Best-Performing Community Banks for 2020.” Ranking at no. 23, GRB was the only bank in New York state on the nationwide list.

Recently, GRB received a Diamond-level Lender from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Last year, the bank provided more than $20 million in (non-PPP) SBA loans. This makes GRB the top SBA lender in the region three years running.

Read the full article on the RBJ website.

Congratulations, Phil!

GRB Earns Diamond Award from U.S. SBA for Small Business Lending

Genesee Regional Bank (GRB) is pleased to be recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) with a Diamond Award for its small business lending activities for the period from Oct. 2020 through Oct. 2021.

Commercial Relationship Manager Dave Leaderer receives the individual SBA award for 2021.
Commercial Relationship Manager Dave Leaderer receives the individual Ignite SBA award for 2021.
Photo of GRB accepting the Diamond Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration
GRB accepts the U.S. Small Business Administration Diamond Award from SBA Branch Manager Virginia Smith. From left, Commercial Banking Team Lead Sam Gueli, Commercial Services Manager Cathy Doran, Commercial Relationship Manager Dave Leaderer, Virginia Smith, Commercial Banking Team Lead Pat Murray and Chief Lending Officer Timothy Jones.

The bank closed 37 loans totaling $20,278,500. According to the SBA, those loans supported 891 jobs in our community. As published in a recent issue of the “Rochester Business Journal,” this also makes GRB the top SBA lender in the Rochester area.

In addition to the new businesses and business expansions made possible through SBA lending, GRB continued to assist local businesses with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and forgiveness throughout 2021. In rounds 1 and 2, GRB provided 893 PPP loans to small businesses impacted by the pandemic. While many larger banks were unable (or unwilling) to help customers with PPP lending, America’s community banks stepped up.

We are also proud to announce that Commercial Relationship Manager Dave Leaderer received the SBA’s individual Ignite award for his extraordinary efforts throughout the PPP loan process and for new SBA lending activities in 2021.

We know we don’t have a branch on every corner. But having a presence isn’t the same as being present.

GRB is here for this community. We are present for small businesses, families and individuals. We are present when times are good and when there is a crisis.

You will always find GRB right here, whenever you need us.

New Conforming Loan Limits for 2022

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced new maximum conforming loan limits for 2022.

House made of blocks with 2022 next to it.

Conforming Loan Limits for 2022

In Central and Western New York:

  • The maximum conforming FHFA loan limit for one-unit properties will be $647,200. This is an increase of $98,950 over the 2021 limits.
  • Multi-family property conforming limits also increased. Two-family properties are up to $828,700 and three-unit homes are up to $1,001,650. The new limit for four-unit properties is $1,244,850.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) requires that the baseline conforming loan limit be adjusted each year for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The adjustment reflects changes in the average U.S. home price. The percentage increase in the maximum conforming loan limit follows the Housing Price Index for the prior four quarters.

“The annual FHFA adjustment is important for homebuyers,” said GRB’s SVP, Residential Mortgage Manager Mike Pulver. “It provides better financing options for loans that would traditionally have fallen into the ‘jumbo’ category.”

For new loan applications or applications already in process, the loan amounts will be subject to 2021 limits as long as the loan closes by Dec. 31. Loans closing on Jan. 1 or after will fall under the 2022 limits.

FHA loan limits are expected to increase as well. We will post updates as they become available.

Contact GRB’s Mortgage Team with any questions.

#ShopSmall Tips for Helping #ROC Businesses Today and Every Day

Photo of groups of friends laughing and taking a break after busy shopping day

With Small Business Saturday® just around the corner and so many small businesses still reeling, the #ShopSmall movement is more important than ever.

According to a report released by the NFIB Research Center, 76% of small businesses say they have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, 68% of owners say they’re very concerned about its potential impact on their business. It’s also important to remember that more than two-thirds of every dollar spent at local small businesses stays in the local economy. So Small Business Saturday makes a real impact.

Here are a five things you can do to help your favorite small businesses this holiday season – and every day:

Leave a Positive Review (or a Few)

Do you buy anything these days without reading the reviews? A positive review can have a tremendous impact on a small business. Set a goal of leaving three rave reviews for your favorite small businesses.

Refer a Friend

If you received amazing service, found a great deal, or purchased a unique item, tell someone else about it. It’s a little like a review. But your family and friends are even more likely to follow your lead and shop at a small business you’ve recommended. Your referral is incredibly valuable. Make a point to tell three people about your top picks in the area.

Shop Online

If parking or weather becomes a concern on Small Business Saturday, many local businesses have wonderful online stores, too. You can always stop in and pick up your purchases when it’s more convenient or have them delivered.

Make a #ShopSmall Tradition

Many people have long-standing traditions for Black Friday shopping, why not do the same for Small Business Saturday? Wear an ugly sweater. Start out early and have a wonderful breakfast at a local restaurant. Shop ’til you drop the rest of the day at local stores or select a village setting and hit every store on the block. Then, have dinner at another local restaurant. Don’t forget to leave great reviews everywhere you go!

Need Help Finding Small Businesses?

Sometimes we pass by wonderful businesses without really understanding what they do or what they sell. Make an effort to select a busy street and use a mapping tool to zoom in and find out more about all of the businesses in the area. You can also use the #ShopSmall mapping tool to find great local businesses.

In 2010, American Express created Small Business Saturday® on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to Shop Small and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses. Since then, the movement has grown with more than 100 million U.S. consumers shopping independent restaurants and retailers each Small Business Saturday.

Have a safe and healthy holiday season and don’t forget to #ShopSmall!

Scam Alert: Real People in Fake Call Centers

The newest trend in cybercrime is the use of cybercriminal-controlled call centers to trick you into providing your bank or credit card information. Cybercriminals try to use real people in fake call centers to convince you that a scam is legitimate. 

Illustration of credit card caught on fishing hook

A recent call center scam starts with an email that appears to be an invoice for a very large purchase. It is not clear what company this invoice is from or what was purchased, but the payment amount is listed six times. The email also starts and ends with a line directing you to call their number if you did not authorize the transaction. If you call the number provided, a representative happily offers to refund you. But first, they’ll need your bank or credit card information. Unfortunately, the representative is actually a cybercriminal who plans to use your payment information for their own devious purposes. 

Follow these tips to stay safe from this social engineering attack:

  • The invoice in this attack is specifically designed to cause alarm and frustration. Cybercriminals target your emotions in hopes of tricking you into acting impulsively. Always think before you click.
  • A valid phone number doesn’t mean that an email is legitimate. Cybercriminals are real people who can lie over the phone, just as they lie in phishing emails.
  • Instead of calling the provided number, reach out to your bank or credit card company to verify the details of the transaction. If by chance there has been unauthorized usage, your bank or credit card company can help correct the issue.

Thanks to KnowBe4 for providing the information on these fraud practices!

GRB Celebrates Appearance on 2021 Top 100 List

GRB is pleased to announce it was named no. 13 on the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce “2021 Top 100” list.  GRB is the only bank on the Top 100 list.

To be eligible for the Top 100, businesses must be privately held, headquartered in the nine-county Rochester region, and have earned at least $1 million in revenue in each of the three most recent fiscal years. The Top 100 is computed based on revenue growth, taking into account both dollar and percentage growth.

We are also proud to note how many GRB customers and partners are on the Top 100.  The exciting new ideas brought to market by newer companies on the list and the consistent growth of those who make the list year after year are a testament to the strength and innovative spirit of this region. 

Congratulations to everyone on the list for 2021! The full list can be found on the Chamber’s website.

And a sincere thank you to our GRB employees. Your hard work and commitment to serving our customers made this achievement possible. The last 18 months have completely changed how many of you do your jobs. Your ability to adapt and continue serving our customers with focus and commitment is nothing short of spectacular. You are appreciated each and every day!

It is not lost on us how challenging the environment was for so many last year and as we enter the last quarter of 2021. We are happy to be recognized as part of the Top 100, but we know there is a lot of work to do in our community to ensure Rochester continues to provide opportunities and growth for individuals, families, and businesses. Today, we take some time to celebrate. But we know there is a lot of work still to be done. We love this community and look forward to the challenge!