This week, small banks serving America's impoverished communities were recognized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund with $25 million in Bank Enterprise Awards (BEA Awards) to a record-breaking 119 banks and thrifts headquartered in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Of the awardees, 61 are members of the Community Development Bankers Association (CDBA), who received a total of $13.8 million in awards (55 percent of the total award dollars).
Last month, Citizens National Bank received the 2018 Community Impact Award at the 22nd annual CRA & Fair Lending Colloquium in Hollywood, Fla. The award specifically recognized the bank's Power of Local Community Development Program, which helps the unbanked establish credit, improve credit scores, and secure affordable home loans. "Our vision is to assist our customers in creating a personal financial plan that enables them to achieve their dreams," said J. Scott Sills, Chief Marketing Officer at Citizens National Bank.
Rural businesses, especially startups and those operating on a shoestring, have long found it difficult to qualify for traditional bank loans. Now Hello Bello, a new app from 1st Southwest Bank CEO Kent Curtis, seeks to address that. The app provides a central database that combines numerous sources of financing open to an underserved business. "Hello Bello serves to mitigate risk for banks and open the complete capital stack for small businesses," Curtis said. "This can be transformational in the way capital is deployed in rural communities."
Last month, FM Bank held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new location that will open next year. The 2,816 square-foot full-service banking facility will have a three-lane drive thru, a drive-up ATM, and a night deposit box. The branch will be located at the intersection of Farmington Road and County Road 166. "Our banks take pride in the communities where we are located," said President and CEO John Haynes. "Making our communities the best they can be is one of our daily goals as a community bank."
Annie Donovan has officially announced her departure from the CDFI Fund. During her five years as director, Donovan oversaw tremendous growth in the agency's funding and programming and the largest ever CDFI Program award round. Donovan leaves the Fund in good hands, however. Her replacement, Jodie Harris, joins the Fund from the Department of Treasury where she serves as Director of Small Business, Community Development, and Housing Policy. Harris previously ran the BEA program and served as an adviser to former CDFI Fund Director Donna Gambrell.
The Cato Institute's Diego Zuluaga recently suggested that the best approach to the Community Reinvestment Act would be its elimination. Nikitra Bailey offers her rebuttal in American Banker. The CRA was initially created in response to redlining, a practice in which banks refused to lend to low-to-moderate income neighborhoods, including communities of color. Thus, Nikitra argues, CRA has played an integral role in fighting this by expanding investment and access to credit for communities with a history of underservice by banks. Read her full argument here.
President Donald Trump has signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. The Council will be chaired by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, and comprised of 13 Federal agencies. The new group will engage with all levels of government on ways to better use taxpayer dollars to revitalize low-income communities and improve efforts by streamlining, coordinating, and targeting existing Federal programs to economically distressed areas, including Opportunity Zones.
When Stephanie Shimp's restaurant business was on the verge of financial disaster, Sunrise Banks stepped in to help them through the use of SBA-backed loans. "There may be something that prevents the loan from being done conventionally," says Chris Albrecht, Sunrise Bank's senior vice president and SBA manager. "The hope is that these [SBA] loans will transition into conventional financing." And for Shimp, they did exactly that. "We have grown really because of and through this SBA product," she explains. "It's a real company now." Read more here.
1st Southwest Bank customer Animas Chocolate Company has revolutionized the world of chocolate for Durango locals. The shop specializes in both bean-to-bar chocolate and fine chocolate mixes such as hot chocolate, truffles, and more. Owners Carley and Marc have taken dessert-making to a whole new level, making tasty and enjoying sweets an experience anyone will want to share. Recently, the bank reached out to the owners to get their take on what it's like running their unique business. Read more here.
Tiffany Stone set out to change her community for the better. So, she began at BankPlus. She started as the Banking Center head teller then quickly moved on to become a branch manager and senior universal banker. "The coolest part of my career is to be a part of the future of banking," Stone said. "Our branches are the future of banking with ITM: Interactive Teller Machines. This is where a live person takes care of all your transactions through our Interactive Teller Machine just like you would at any teller window at any bank. Our branches are not your typical branch look, but customers love it because it's so pleasant and efficient." Read her full story here.