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.
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 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.
Several consumer advocacy groups are opposing Oportun Financial's application for a national bank charter, citing concerns about the company's lending and debt-collection practices. Many of those issues came to light in a ProPublica investigation over the summer that focused on the high proportion of collection suits that the online lender had filed in recent years and its high proportion of repeat borrowers. Oportun charges high interest rates, rolls over too much debt and has been too quick to take borrowers to court when they fall behind on payments, the community groups wrote in comment letters to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The company’s application also lacks a sufficient Community Reinvestment Act plan, several of the groups wrote.
The President is expected to sign the $900 billion COVID relief bill passed by Congress yesterday. Find here a 29 page summary on the most relevant aspects of the stimulus package.
The stimulus package being negotiated in Washington includes $285 billion for a renewed Paycheck Protection Program. The bill includes other aid measures that are not specifically part of the Paycheck Protection Program but could nonetheless help many small businesses. This includes $12 billion for Community Development Financial Institutions, which make loans and grants to people and communities that are often unable to get traditional banks to do business with them. That amount of money would be transformational, said Jeannine Jacokes, the chief executive of the Community Development Bankers Association, a trade group for community financial institutions. “Every time we have a recession, low-income places are hit the hardest and are the last to recover,” Ms. Jacokes said. “Treasury is providing the capital for a long-term investment in these communities.”
Yelp Inc., the company that connects people with great local businesses, today announced it has deposited $10 million of its cash reserves with minority-owned financial institutions that support Black and underserved communities, including Broadway Federal Bank (Broadway), Carver Federal Savings Bank (Carver) and Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company (Citizens Savings Bank). According to The Wall Street Journal, fifteen years ago America had 36 Black-owned banks,2 and today the FDIC reports only 20.3 Yelp selected Broadway, Carver and Citizens Savings Bank because of their immense impact on their respective communities.