Darrin Williams was already out sick for a few days — not Coronavirus-related — when Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd. Williams, who is Black, has a 21-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter. “Every Black parent has to have that conversation about the police with their kids,” he says. He is also the CEO of Southern Bancorp, a bank with $1.5 billion in assets, serving small cities and rural areas of Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta region. Banks didn’t create systemic racism by themselves, and they won’t solve it by themselves. But banks have played an important role in creating and sustaining systemic racism, and Williams still believes they can play a role in ending it.
Congress provided a lifeline for small businesses in late March: the Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion program to facilitate government-backed, forgivable loans intended to keep businesses afloat. Demand was high when the program launched in early April: the allocated funding ran out in less than two weeks and many Community Development Funding Institutions (CDFIs) like Sky-Tucker's felt left out. The more than 1,000 CDFIs across the country provide education, investments, and loans to low-to-moderate income individuals and businesses that usually can't access credit at larger banks, and who are most at risk during an economic downturn. With Congress set to start negotiating another relief package in later in July, CDFIs are looking to the future and seeking new funding mechanisms to support their clients.
Streaming giant Netflix is depositing $100 million of its cash on hand in Black-owned banks. The company says Black-owned financial institutions have a harder time accessing capital and that the move should help the banks lend more to their communities. There are only 21 Black-owned banks in the United States, and they’re predominantly located in communities of color. Michael Neal, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, said they don’t have the deposits that other banks do. At the Black-owned Carver State Bank in Savannah, Georgia, Robert James II said more deposits could help his bank make more loans for affordable housing. “We would be able to extend more small business capital,” James said. “We would be able to extend more credit to some of the nonprofits that we serve.”
The CARES Act created the extremely successful Paycheck Protection Program which has helped small businesses maintain payroll during these challenging times. The U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury), the Small Business Administration (SBA) and over 5,000 lenders took quick action to launch this program and have provided an unprecedented 4.8 million loans. The deadline to apply for the PPP is June 30, 2020, but an additional $140 billion of PPP funds remain unobligated. To ready our small business, lenders and entrepreneurs for learning how to “live with the virus” and move towards reopening, we recommend Congress take action on the following: extend the application date, clarify the length of the loan term, ease the loan forgiveness application, authorize $5 billion of the remaining PPP funds to the Community Development Financial Institutional (CDFI) Fund.
Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to produce their second annual look at the Best Banks In Each State to gauge whose customers gave their banks the highest grades. Nearly 25,000 customers in the U.S. were surveyed for their opinions on their current and former banking relationships. Southern Bancorp and BankPlus were named among the best banks in their states.
An effort encouraging investors to buy stock in Black-run banks could create new challenges for the leaders of those companies. The Buying Black movement, which took root last week, led to sharp increases in the shares of companies such as Broadway Financial in Los Angeles, Carver Bancorp in New York and M&F Bancorp in Durham, N.C. An influx of new investors could increase pressure to improve shareholder returns, while any strategic effort designed to generate higher profits could also draw a backlash. At the same time, markets are fickle — most shares in Black-run banks have fallen significantly in recent days as some existing shareholders cashed out.
Three years after its successful initial investment, The Cameron Foundation has renewed a $1 million loan and deposit with Virginia Community Capital (VCC), a community development financial institution that makes impact investments throughout the Commonwealth. As the community begins to reopen from the COVID-19 closures, the funds will be deployed into the Tri-Cities and other areas in Cameron's footprint, supporting their economic rebuilding.
In partnership with the 17-member Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) network and lawmakers, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced the launching of a $225 million statewide grant program that will go to support small businesses throughout the state that have been impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis and the subsequent business closure order. CDFI is a group of 17 Pennsylvania-based community development financial institutions that primarily provide financing options for small businesses. The fund will be distributed through the recently enacted state budget, which includes $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Podcast: Sells, American Banker's Digital Banker of the Year, explains how he encouraged his team to take risks on projects like a three-minute account opening process and a system that analyzes core data in real time to help set deposit prices. Read American Banker's profile on him here.
Foundations and other institutional investors are targeting capital to help hardest-hit communities recover from the coronavirus pandemic, reviving a structure that helped during the Great Recession: community development financial institutions. Unlike traditional banks, CDFIs deploy federal funds that they then leverage four to six times with private debt from banks, foundations, corporations and individuals to lend to disadvantaged business owners, affordable housing developers and community projects that would not otherwise qualify for traditional loans. There are now more than 1,100 CDFIs in the U.S. with more than $222 billion in assets certified by the Department of Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund program.