Comerica and the Comerica Charitable Foundation announced today a commitment to invest approximately $16 million in 2021 to support small businesses and communities impacted by COVID. This support is in addition to the $11 million in 2020 that was directed toward small business relief and nonprofits providing essential needs, such as food and supplies – as a result of the pandemic – in Comerica's footprint of Texas, Michigan, California, Arizona and Florida. In late 2020, Comerica moved $10 million in deposits to Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), as well as established mutual mentoring relationships with these institutions. Specifically, Comerica allocated $2.5 million to each selected MDI, including First Independence Bank in Detroit, Mich.; Broadway Federal Bank in Los Angeles, Calif.; Unity National Bank in Houston, Texas; and Commercial Bank of California in Irvine, Calif.
In February, the Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator Act was reintroduced to Congress. The legislation would allow for the creation of a national green bank, which would use $100 billion in private and public funds to invest in clean energy projects. This move, together with the fact that 39% of voters said they would take environmental factors into consideration when choosing a bank, seems to point to the financial industry getting greener. "We're living in a time of great societal change, and consumers have made it clear that they want brands to take a stance on things like sustainability and racial justice," said David Reiling, CEO of Minnesota-based Sunrise Banks, a bank that brands itself as socially responsible. "Frankly, companies need to make a commitment one way or the other – they can't remain silent."
Like the previous two rounds of checks, the $1,400 direct payments will come with eligibility rules based on income and other requirements. However, because these new checks are set to be authorized through a process known as budget reconciliation, they will not be exempt from garnishment. Consumer and banking trade groups, including CDBA, sent a letter to Congressional and Senate leaders on Monday calling for the stimulus payments to be exempt from garnishment. “Otherwise, the families that most need this money — those struggling with debt and whose entire bank accounts may be frozen by garnishment orders — will not be able to access their funds,” the letter said.
"Buy Black! Bank Black!" The chant was heard frequently over the course of 2020 during protests and conversations surrounding racial justice in America. It turns out it was more than just a chant. Over the past year, Black banks have a notable uptick in interest on the heels of this social movement. "We've seen more than 30 million dollars of new deposit relationships come to us through large corporate partners, non-profit organizations and customers over the past few months," said Michael Pugh, CEO and President of Carver Bank. "I can tell you that it's at least a forty percent increase above where we've seen our historical trends."
The latest revision of the Paycheck Protection Program appeared to be a victory for the most vulnerable small businesses, offering more generous relief to companies like solo ventures that were eligible for only tiny loans — or none at all. If only they could take advantage of the changes. President Biden announced an abrupt overhaul two weeks ago to funnel more money to very small companies, some of which qualified for loans as small as $1 under the old guidelines. But the Small Business Administration updated its systems only on Friday, and with just three weeks before the program is set to expire, some lenders say there just isn't enough time to adapt to the changes.
New Biden administration rules overhauling the way small business loans are doled out will potentially leave thousands of sole proprietorships and the self-employed on the sidelines, despite the president's pledge to give them better access to pandemic aid. The Small Business Administration quietly decided that the benefits that President Joe Biden promised to "one-person businesses" won't be available to many of those who have already received aid from the program. The agency concedes those businesses were shortchanged under earlier rules — some received as little as $1 because of the way loans were calculated — but says it isn't able to let PPP borrowers increase existing loans. That means the more favorable new rules will only be available to new loan applicants. Dennis Ammann, the CEO of Peoples Bank in Mississippi, said "it seems as though the small businesses who needed the most help are being penalized."
Kathryn Smart was struggling to make ends meet at the start of England's latest lockdown. The 45-year-old usually earns £1,100 a month working at a debt collection agency in Sunderland, but reduced her hours to help home-school her six-year-old son. Smart needed money to tide her family over, but knew she would not qualify for a mainstream loan. A bad experience with payday lenders several years ago left her with £3,000 worth of debt and a poor credit score. With a contentious county court judgment (CCJ) also on her file, she Googled “loans offered to borrowers with CCJs” and found Fair Finance, one of the UK’s 50 community development finance institutions (CDFIs). While the not-for-profit cooperatives have existed in the UK for 20 years, they are little-known outside their customer base. “I first thought they were a payday lender,” says Smart. “I didn’t know they were a responsible finance company until I had done a bit more research.”
Two CDBA member bankers were featured on NPR's Marketplace program in late February. Robert James II, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Carver State Bank, was on the February 22 program to discuss hiring at black-owned banks and the Paycheck Protection Program rollout. Dominik Mjartan, President and CEO at Optus Bank, was on the February 24 program to discuss small business recovery during the pandemic.
In its largest award round to date, the U.S. Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund announced Feb. 22 that more than $175.4 million in Capital Magnet Fund awards (CMF) have been distributed during its sixth funding round. The fiscal year (FY) 2020 award round also saw the largest number of award recipients with 48 organizations receiving funds. The 48 awardees were selected from 137 applications, which requested more than $642.2 million in awards this CMF round. Congratulations to CDBA members Beneficial State Bancorp, Inc., Central Bank of Kansas City, City First Enterprises, Inc., United Bank, and Virginia Community Capital, Inc. on their Capital Magnet Fund awards!
Carver Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for Carver Federal Savings Bank, a certified Minority Depository Institution (MDI) and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), announced that JPMorgan Chase has made a long-term equity investment of approximately $6 million in common and preferred shares of the Company. JPMorgan Chase's equity investment represents approximately 3.4 percent of the Company's issued and outstanding common stock at purchase. In addition, the investment includes 5,000 shares of the Company's Series F preferred stock. Carver expects to utilize the majority of the proceeds from JPMorgan Chase's investment to ramp up its lending activities to Minority and Women Business Entrepreneurs and expand its financial education programs in the diverse low-to-moderate income communities it serves.