Southern Bancorp, Inc., a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and holding company for Southern Bancorp Bank, today announced it has entered into a merger agreement to acquire DeWitt First Bankshares Corporation and its wholly owned subsidiary, Arkansas County Bank, a $185 million asset bank with two branches in Arkansas County (DeWitt and Stuttgart) and one in Sevier County (Lockesburg).
President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to four sources familiar with the decision, choosing a strong consumer advocate aligned with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). If confirmed, Chopra, now a member of the Federal Trade Commission, would be returning to helm an agency he helped Warren set up after its establishment by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010. The selection of Chopra signals that the Biden administration plans to return the CFPB to the more-muscular posture of its early days following three years of Trump administration appointees curbing the agency's reach. Biden also plans to nominate Gary Gensler, a former financial regulator known for aggressive bank oversight, as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a source familiar with the matter said.
Duke Energy announced today it has deposited $5 million into Optus Bank, a Black-owned bank based in South Carolina, furthering the company's support for diverse and minority-owned businesses, individuals and low income communities. The transaction was completed at the end of 2020. This marks the largest deposit Duke Energy has made with a Black-owned bank in the U.S. and the company expects to evaluate additional similar opportunities in the future. And, this historic relationship expands Optus Bank's depositors to include the utility sector.
FHLBank Atlanta board members elected Brian E. Argrett, president, chief executive officer, and director of City First Bank of DC, to a two-year term as vice chair of FHLBank Atlanta's board of directors. Mr. Argrett was founder and managing partner of both Fulcrum Capital Group and Fulcrum Capital Partners, L.P. from 1992 to 2011. He served as president, chief executive officer, and director of Fulcrum Venture Capital Corporation, a federally licensed and regulated Small Business Investment Company, from 1992 to 2011. He currently serves as chairman of the boards of directors of City First Enterprises, a nonprofit bank holding company, and City First Foundation.
The Bureau is actively seeking applications for vacancies on the Consumer Advisory Board (CAB), the Community Bank Advisory Council (CBAC), the Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC), and the Academic Research Council (ARC). The deadline for application closes on February 24, 2021, at 11:59PM EST. Our intention is to complete this Director-level appointment process by September 2021. There are 18 vacancies across the various committees. Advisory committee members serve two year terms, on a staggered cadence. Please click the link for application instructions.
Congress has made the Paycheck Protection Program more flexible and given priority to the smallest, hardest-hit businesses, but the long-awaited second round of loans will still serve as little more than a stopgap as the pandemic rages on. The lending program reopened to some lenders Monday, about three weeks after Congress passed the bill. During the first few days, only community financial institutions, which mostly work with very small and often minority-owned businesses, will be able to make loans. "It's not a silver bullet for smaller businesses. But they hopefully can get a bunch of their applications in before the system is overwhelmed," said Jeannine Jacokes, CEO of the Community Development Bankers Association.
The Paycheck Protection Program's soft launch received mixed reviews, creating uncertainty over when the portal will be open to all participating lenders. The Small Business Administration limited access on Monday to community development financial institutions, minority depository institutions and other mission-driven lenders, representing about a tenth of all the companies participating in the emergency loan program. “It’s a challenging situation for us,” said Robert James II, director of strategic initiatives at the $48.4 million-asset Carver Financial, a Black-owned bank in Savannah, Ga., that has yet to make any loans under the restart.
The veteran Chicago banker and VP of Mission Deposits and Community Relationships at Providence Bank & Trust talks about the higher purpose he sees in banking. Milsap says that his goal is to build relationships between his bank and the community they serve by making clear our bank’s focus on community lending and stewardship.
The recently passed coronavirus relief package will include $9 billion to the newly restored Emergency Capital Investment Fund. The $9 billion Emergency Capital Investment Fund isn't supposed to be a bailout for eligible banks and credit unions. It's intended to position the eligible lenders to make new loans as the economy recovers over the next few years — particularly small businesses loans. “It’s a gargantuan amount of money,” says Jeannine Jacokes, chief executive at the Community Development Bankers Association. “It’s either going to be absolutely game changing or it’s going to be a dud. It’s all in how Treasury implements it.”
City First Bank of D.C. and CEO Brian Argrett entered 2021 with lofty goals. The $394 million-asset bank is in the homestretch of completing a merger with Broadway Financial in Los Angeles that would create the nation’s biggest Black-led bank. The deal, scheduled to close in the first half of this year, comes at a time when more banks are focusing on addressing racial inequality. Argrett is one of American Banker’s five community bankers to watch this year.