The Masonic Theatre in Clifton Forge, Va., — a small town in the Alleghany Highlands — opened in 1906. Over the years, the three-story architectural masterpiece has hosted vaudeville shows, movies, and live performances by stars such as Gene Autry, the Drifters and the Count Basie Orchestra. In 2009, six years after the Masonic had been donated to the town of Clifton Forge, a group of residents set out to renovate the deteriorating landmark. Their dedication bore fruit in 2016, when the Masonic reopened as a stunning performing arts venue, movie theater and educational facility. I'm proud that Virginia Community Capital, a member of Appalachian Community Capital, the organization I'm honored to lead, was one of the lenders that provided financing for the project. And I know that for Clifton Forge — a community that has struggled since the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway's maintenance shop there closed decades ago — the new Masonic is much more than a beautiful building.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is soliciting comments on proposed rules to rescind the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rule issued in 2020 and replace it with rules adopted jointly by the Federal banking agencies in 1995, as amended. This action facilitates the ongoing interagency work to modernize the CRA regulatory framework and promote consistency for all insured depository institutions. The proposed rules would apply to all national banks and all federal and state savings associations. Comments must be received on or before October 29, 2021.
Rising two stories, the gray steel framework of BNA Bank's downtown Tupelo location is in its early stages. When complete, the 18,000-square-foot building will be home to the New Albany-based bank as well as a couple of other tenants. Bank officials, joined by city of Tupelo and Lee County officials and others, had a ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday at the site on West Main Street next to the railroad tracks. "We've done well in those years," CEO Bo Collins said. "Northeast Mississippi is our golden spot on earth. We feel like it's a diamond in the rough." With some $678 million in assets, BNA Bank has expanded into Lee and Lafayette Counties in recent years. Its first foray outside its home market was in Tupelo in the Belden area in 2007, followed by an opening on Tom Watson Drive in 2015.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced $5 billion in New Markets Tax Credits today that will spur investment and economic growth in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide. A total of 100 Community Development Entities (CDEs) were awarded tax credit allocations, made through the calendar year (CY) 2020 round of the New Markets Tax Credit Program. The 7 CDBA member banks receiving awards were Central Bank of Kansas City, The Harbor Bank of Maryland, Peoples Bank, Legacy Bank & Trust, Sunrise Banks, Southern Bancorp, and United Bank.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed a new rule designed to help small businesses gain access to the credit they need and deserve by increasing transparency in the lending marketplace. This rule, mandated by Congress in the Dodd-Frank Act, would, if finalized, require lenders to disclose information about their lending to small businesses, allowing community organizations, researchers, lenders, and others to better support small business and community development needs. Under the proposal, lenders would be required to report the amount and type of small business credit applied for and extended, demographic information about small business credit applicants, and key elements of the price of the credit offered. The CFPB also launched a web portal for small business entrepreneurs to share their stories about applying for credit, which will help the CFPB understand small business entrepreneurs' challenges and successes in accessing credit.
Detroit-based First Independence Bank, one of only 18 Black-owned full-service banks in the country, has filed an application to open a branch in the Twin Cities. The first branch is set to open in November. Five banks in the Twin Cities—Bank of America, Bremer Bank, Huntington Bank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo—are each supporting First Independence Bank's arrival with capital, research, marketing, and other services to assure its start-up and long-term success. Gov. Tim Walz welcomed the news. "In Minnesota, we know that a strong economy is an equitable economy, and the opening of First Independence Bank is a notable milestone to achieving an economy that works for all Minnesotans," Walz said in a joint statement with Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan released on Aug. 19. "I offer my warmest congratulations to First Independence Bank, and I thank our entire banking community in Minnesota for providing the support and capital to make this a reality."
FUND Community Institute is conducting a research project on community development strategies. We welcome all CDFIs to participate in our survey at the link provided. Please feel free to reach out with any questions and thanks in advance for your participation.
First Eagle Bank delivered a new dream bedroom to Harry, a 13-year-old Bartlett teen battling cancer. Harry was diagnosed with leukemia in February 2021 and has spent much time in and out of the hospital. The Hanover Park based bank partnered with Illinois based charity Special Spaces Chicagoland to create Harry's dream bedroom in a single day. "Children battling cancer spend endless hours in their room, it was an honor to be involved in sponsoring and creating a safe space for Harry during such a challenging time," said Gene Khalimsky, Vice President at First Eagle Bank. Khalimsky is well aware of the impact of childhood cancer as his daughter also spent years battling leukemia and received a room makeover from Special Spaces while in treatment in 2013 -- she is now a healthy 14-year-old. "First Eagle Bank is proud to contribute to the community and give back to such a great cause," he said. First Eagle Bank, which has always taken an active role in the local community, is very proud of its outstanding Community Reinvestment Act rating and Community Development Financial Institution certification. It is committed to providing credit, capital, and financial services to underserved communities and its staff is personally committed and involved with nonprofits such as Special Spaces Chicagoland to assist people in any way possible. First Eagle Bank is looking to make a difference in people's lives -- its customers, its community and each other.
Six Black banks — including four of the nation's largest — have joined a new digital platform by Citi. The action could help the banks increase lending to African American entrepreneurs. According to a news release, the banks are part of a consortium linking with Bridge built by Citi, a bank-led, digital meeting place that connects businesses seeking loans up to $10 million. The "first-of-its-kind platform is aimed to expand access to capital and financial services to Black small business owners. The platform launched by Citi matches local and regional banks with local small businesses needing funding for improvements and expansion amid the post-COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative will initially consist of 18 banks that Citi will send business leads to. Banks on the program include Mechanics & Farmers Bank in Durham, North Carolina; Optus Bank in Columbia, South Carolina; and Carver State Bank in Savannah, Georgia
Black folks are turning to cryptocurrencies as a new path to wealth at a higher percentage than the general population, according to USA Today. An estimated 23 percent of Black Americans own cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, compared to 13 percent of the general population, the newspaper reported, based on surveys by Harris Poll. Black people are not alone. The survey found that marginalized groups disproportionately own crypto. About 25 percent of the LGBTQ community and 17 percent of Hispanics are in the crypto market, compared to 11 percent of white Americans. What many in those groups have in common is a belief that the banking and loans industry mistreats them. In the survey, 43 percent of Black people had that sentiment, compared with 28 percent of the general American population.