by Nisa Islam Muhammad
Special to the NNPA from The Final Call
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – “I started in banking as a kid,” said B. Doyle Mitchell, chair of the National Banking Association and president of the Industrial Bank of Washington at a press conference during the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference.
“I rode with my dad and then started working at 16. I realized then how banks helped everyday people with loans, technical assistance and more,” he said. “I’ve watched the Industrial Bank of Washington send kids to college, buy homes, start and save businesses. We’ve helped people over generations.”
Five banks around the country will be able to give more help to the Black community thanks to a $5 million investment by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. The move is aimed at increasing loan availability for businesses and individuals.
“Historically, and still today, minority and women-owned banks remain an important source of credit and accessible financial services, filling a necessary gap in communities that might not otherwise have them,” said Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa), chair of CBCF’s board on Sept. 17.
“CBCF has invested in this partnership because we want—and need—these institutions to grow and thrive, so that their success in supporting the broader economic health of communities across the country can continue.”
Banks in four regions of the country—North, South, East and Midwest—will receive $1 million. The initiative includes the Industrial Bank in Washington, D.C.; Liberty Bank & Trust Company in New Orleans; Mechanics & Farmers Bank in Durham, N.C.; Seaway Bank & Trust Company in Chicago; and City National Bank of New Jersey in Newark.
“We hope that this investment will spur much-needed economic development, provide critical support to small businesses and inspire others to invest in minority banks, a critical lifeline for comprehensive economic recovery in Black communities,” said A. Shuanise Washington, CBCF president and chief executive officer.
CBCF is purchasing FDIC-insured certificates of deposit and placing the certificates with the banks.
“The greatest challenge facing African American leaders today is increasing the collective wealth of African Americans. The $5 million deposit in these banks will stimulate more lending to small businesses that can, in turn, create more jobs,” said Michael Grant, president of the 86-year-old National Bankers Association.
Can much be done with $1 million? “Every $20,000, $50,000 and $150,000 loan will make a big impact. A lot can be done. We concentrate on small business loans, commercial property, churches and sensible home mortgage loans,” said Mr. Grant.
There has been a steady decline in the number of Black banks since the 1960s. As of March 2011, the FDIC counted 28 Black-owned banks in the United States, down from 54 in 1994.
“After integration, one of the most toxic side effects is that we started to run and spend our money elsewhere,” Mr. Grant told reporters. “We’re the only group in America that refuses to spend money in our community and we’re paying a high price for it.”
Other factors in the decline include an economic recession that has taken a particularly tough toll on Black families, competition from larger banks and regulatory requirements that are especially hard on small financial institutions.
“It is critical that we, as a collective, remain ardent in our support of Black enterprises,” said Ronald Busby of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. “If we can grow businesses to just hire one new employee, we can attack the unemployment problem.”