Later this spring, the CDFI Fund will be accepting applications for a new grant program, the Small Dollar Loan Program. The Small Dollar Loan Program was created to encourage Certified CDFIs to establish and maintain small dollar loan programs and provide alternatives to high cost small dollar loans. For this program, small dollar loans are unsecured loans of up to $2,500. The grants may be used for two eligible activities, loan loss reserves and technical assistance activities. More information about the Small Dollar Loan Program, including details about the application and the requirements to apply, will be made available soon. However, organizations interested in applying for FY 2021 funds should start their preparations now by following the “Getting Ready to Apply” steps outlined here.
Several banks have announced initiatives totaling billions of dollars that are aimed at addressing racial inequalities, but observers say the programs need to be carefully tailored. City First Bank, a lender in Washington, closely cultivates relationships with its borrowers, finding ways to direct capital to promising but fledgling businesses. The bank is seeing an uptick in interest from larger financial institutions, said its chief lending officer, Sonja Wells, “but it’s all still at a smaller scale than it could be.”
The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund is issuing a call for well-qualified personnel to serve as application reviewers for the FY 2021 application round of the CDFI Program and Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program. The CDFI Fund has contracted with Areeva/F2 Solutions (AF2) to recruit and process applications on a rolling basis for potential candidates. For more information on the CDFI and NACA programs, visit the CDFI Fund website at https://www.cdfifund.gov/Pages/default.aspx.
United Bancorporation of Alabama, Inc. ("UBAB") today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Town-Country National Bank ("TCNB"), a Camden, AL based community bank with approximately $126.2 million in total assets as of December 31, 2020. TCNB shareholders will receive aggregate cash consideration of $28.5 million, with a portion of the consideration paid as a special dividend prior to the close of the transaction. TCNB will rebrand as Town-Country United Bank and operate as a separate banking subsidiary under UBAB. "The Town-Country franchise is complementary to our Alabama footprint, adding an adjacent market presence in Camden, AL, where we are excited to introduce the United brand," explained Robert R. Jones III, CEO, President and Director of UBAB.
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."