City First Bank of DC
City First Bank delivers innovative and creative community development finance services to low- and moderate-income communities of Washington DC and nearby suburbs. The only dedicated community development bank in the region, City First focuses on building assets – financing small companies, affordable housing, and community facilities. City First provides a range of banking services to nonprofit organizations and small businesses. They offer competitive returns to socially motivated investors who want a double bottom line return. With aid from the New Markets Tax Credit, they are able to finance large scale projects and offer subsidized financing for eligible projects that offer demonstrated and sustained benefits in low wealth neighborhoods.
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.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) released a panel report as part of its rulemaking process under Dodd-Frank Act Section 1071 governing the collection and reporting of small business lending data. A panel was convened pursuant to the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, comprised of representatives of the Bureau, the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration, and the Office of Management and Budget. The panel consulted with representatives of small entities likely to be affected directly by a Section 1071 regulation, referred to as small entity representatives or SERs. These representatives included Cynthia Newell of City First Bank of DC and Jane Henderson of Virginia Community Capital.
A half-century ago, the federal government set out to attack the racial wealth gap by supporting Black-owned banks. Policy makers hoped the banks would lend to Black communities sidelined by the mainstream financial system. But five decades of federal financial and regulatory support have failed to boost America's Black-owned banks. The majority have disappeared under the burden of soured loans, bigger competitors created by mergers and financial downturns that hit small lenders hard. Fifteen years ago America had 36 Black-owned banks, government data show. Now there are 18. Now a new generation of entrepreneurs, companies and regulators is trying a different strategy. They are promising to strengthen Black-owned banks by building up their capital with private investments and giving them new ways to earn money with hundreds of millions in big corporate deposits. Their hope is that this approach will ultimately improve Black communities’ access to capital. CDBA Members Optus Bank, Broadway Federal Bank, and City First Bank of DC are featured in the article.