The DC area has striking levels of economic inequality. Community development works to change this, but how equitably are these resources distributed? This new tool shows how well counties are accessing federal funds. The data shows that DC does well in accessing community development financing, though there is comparatively small levels of small business investment.
Bankers have traditionally been reluctant to participate in the Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC) program. However now, as the pace of borrowing by SBICs under the Small Business Administration's (SBA) debenture program holds steady for the first time in three years, more banks are getting interested in the program for perceived benefits as well as potential positive impact.
The application deadline for the 2018 ABA Foundation Community Commitment Awards has been extended to Friday, July 13. The awards recognize and promote the many ways banks contribute to economic growth, community development and overall well-being. Open to banks of all asset sizes and charters, the awards celebrate financial institutions that have demonstrated noteworthy corporate social responsibility. Bankers can submit applications in one or all seven categories: affordable housing, community and economic development, financial education, protecting older Americans, volunteerism, and the George Bailey Award, which recognizes a non-CEO employee who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to community service. The awards will be judged by a panel of experts in each field. Winners will be honored in a ceremony during ABA's Annual Convention in New York on Oct. 21-23.
Little Rock, Arkansas based Southern Bancorp has made a successful business model out of serving places larger banks ignore. Bill Wright, a Little Rock native who leads the Bank's western region, proudly rattles off the names of business owners the bank has supported. Recently, as the bank seeks to expand into further markets in the area, it received $7.5 million from SFRE, a group of global investors interested in banks with a social mission.
Southern Bancorp has completed several acquisitions since the financial crisis, but the biggest bank it bought had just $211 million in assets. Those acquisitions have largely focused on rural markets in Arkansas and Mississippi. CEO Darrin Williams sees no reason to alter that strategy after bringing in almost $18 million in fresh capital. Southern plans to keep scooping up banks that target largely underserved populations. “We want to be profitable but with a purpose,” Williams said. “We talk about riding a bicycle. The front wheel is our mission, while the back wheel pushes us forward. No margin, no mission.”
The share of children living in poverty in the U.S. is currently higher than it was before the Great Recession. According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, nearly 20 percent of children were living in poverty in 2016, compared with 18 percent in 2007. Child poverty rates continue to be highest in the South and Southwest, particularly in counties with concentrations of Native Americans and along the Mississippi Delta.
The CDFI Fund announced $22.8 million in 2017 Bank Enterprise Award grants to mission-focused banks for their service in high poverty communities. These awards were at risk of being rescinded by the Trump Administration’s proposed $15 billion cutbacks package. The rescission failed to pass by its June 22, 2018 deadline, and the 2017 BEA Awards were subsequently unfrozen and released.
48-year old Kiko Davis is the majority stockholder of Detroit-based First Independence Bank, one of the top 10 largest black-owned banks in the United States. This makes her the only African American woman in the country who owns a bank. Kiko says that taking risks is very important to become successful. “Without risk,” she says. “there can be no reward… Your mistakes will bring invaluable knowledge that will ultimately become your strategy for winning.”
A growing movement has community foundations investing in local financial institutions and development projects, empowering entrepreneurship in the underserved communities that need it most. Organizations like Self-Help or Reinvestment Fund are a part of this effort and began making headway in 1994 with the creation of the CDFI Fund. This spurred much growth in the CDFI field, with over a thousand existing in the country today.
Dominik Mjartan, President and CEO of South Carolina Community Bank. authored an op-ed in American Banker entitled "Dear Congress: Don't Gut Funding for CDFIs." "Bankers and policymakers understand that getting $12 of impact for every one dollar invested is a good return on investment," he wrote. "It’s even better if those dollars result in jobs, housing and wealth-building opportunities in underserved areas."