Radical change is possible in the banking sector. It's already happened, actually. Over the past 30 years, the U.S. banking sector went from one dominated by small, community banks to one dominated by massive, global banks. Public policy was a major driver of that shift. Some have spent the last decade or longer searching for ways to restore some community-mindedness to the banking sector. We can’t possibly list them all, but here are some of the ones we’ll be watching closely as the COVID-19 pandemic drags out into an economic recession and eventual recovery. Native American Bank is mentioned.
Applications officially opened on April 3 for the new Paycheck Protection Program loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. The program is intended to help small businesses keep or rehire employees to get through at least part of the economic disruption from COVID-19. All or most of each loan can be forgiven, based on whether borrowers maintain employee levels they had before the economic disruption from the virus took hold. Serving small cities and towns and rural parts of Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta, Southern Bancorp was already approving and wiring Paycheck Protection Program loans to borrowers back on April 3. Sunrise Banks and Beneficial State Bank are also mentioned in the article.
Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, are utilizing all resources at their disposal to help small businesses stay afloat as the novel coronavirus spreads throughout the U.S. CDFIs serve customers typically overlooked by mainstream financial institutions. Beneficial State Bank, an FDIC-insured CDFI that provides commercial banking services to underserved communities, had received 500 phone calls a day about PPP two days before the program even launched on April 3, Interim CEO Randell Leach said. CDBA members Bank Plus, Mission Valley, NOAH Bank, Peoples Bank, and Sunrise Banks are also mentioned in the article.
An emergency loan program intended to get money swiftly into the hands of small businesses has all but collapsed under an unprecedented crush of applications and a shortage of funds, overwhelming agency officials and prompting urgent calls for action on Capitol Hill. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, or EIDL, a long-standing program run by the Small Business Administration (SBA), is separate from the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses that is the subject of a political fight on Capitol Hill. The federal government normally doles out EIDL loans to small businesses hurt by tornadoes and wildfires. On March 12, the SBA expanded the program to help entrepreneurs hurt by the coronavirus, offering low-interest loans of up to $2 million.
Applying for PPP loans is urgent; but how do you sift through 10,400 banks and credit unions for ones that are more likely than others to take and process your application? Relying mostly on publicly available data, Mighty's platform profiles all 5,200 banks in the country, highlighting each bank's connections — or the lack thereof — to specific causes, communities and underserved small businesses. Many of those businesses are currently scrambling to find a bank willing to take their application for one of the new Paycheck Protection Program loans. Mighty just started keeping a list of its bank partners who are accepting applications for the new Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans. It’s not a very long list right now, but they expect it to grow. There’s also CapNexus, a platform run by the nonprofit Partners for the Common Good. It currently lists a curated set of 501 financial institutions, some of which are banks and credit unions, some of which are loan funds.
Minority business owners have always struggled to secure bank loans. Now, many banks want to deal only with existing customers when making loans through the government's $349 billion aid package. Anticipating that minority business owners could struggle to tap federal aid, some lawmakers are proposing ways to earmark additional funds specifically for minority-owned businesses. And on Wednesday, a group of prominent black investors, including John W. Rogers Jr., the billionaire co-chief executive of Ariel Investments, a mutual fund manager, sent a letter to lawmakers expressing concern that the emergency loan program was already leaving black borrowers behind.
CDBA CEO Jeannine Jacokes wrote to the House Financial Services and Small Business Committees urging that the next recovery package addressing the current health and economic crisis provide meaningful support for low- and moderate-income communities. To ensure resources are directed to the most severely impacted people and places, CDBA asks that Congress provide $1 billion for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, direct the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve to create a meaningful set-a-side within its Main Street program for CDFIs and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), and ensure that half of any further funding for the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program is specifically earmarked for CDFIs, MDIs and small banks under $10 billion that will target the resources for borrowers in low- and moderate-income communities.
Major banking trades, including the Community Development Bankers Association (CDBA), American Bankers Association (ABA), Bank Policy Institute (BPI), Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), National Bankers Association (NBA), and National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders (NAAHL), are collectively urging Congress to appropriate $1 billion for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to aid in economic recovery in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In letters to House and Senate leadership, as well as Appropriations Committees, Financial Services and General Government Subcommittees, and authorizing committees, the banking trades described the CDFI industry's track record of promoting economic stabilization, job preservation and creation, and addressing community needs that would enable them to effectively channel federal funds into the low-income communities they serve.
President Trump on Tuesday praised some of the country's largest financial firms for pledging to take new steps to help small businesses disrupted by the coronavirus. Trump heralded their plans as he hosted a video conference with leaders of banks, including Darrin Williams of Southern Bancorp. You can view the video call here; Williams begins speaking around 6:30. The participants — who also included executives from community banks — have been helping the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration distribute $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Community banks are eager to make loans to help their small-business customers stay afloat while the economy remains shut down due to social distancing, but many face a significant hurdle: They don't have enough deposits on hand to meet loan demand. As a result, small banks have been turning with more frequency to deposit placement firms like StoneCastle Partners in New York to help to secure the funding they need to offer bridge loans or participate in the federal government’s emergency small-business loan program. In the last week, Farmers & Merchants Bank in Miamisburg, Ohio, has gone to its “absolute max” to draw $18 million from StoneCastle so it can quickly get loans into the hands of business clients suffering from the economic shocks of the coronavirus outbreak, said CEO Shon Myers.