Local Banks Get Small Biz Lending Boost

By Andy Meek

Small businesses in Memphis – as well as across Tennessee – stand to benefit from a pair of announcements unveiled this week regarding targeted federal investment in the area.

First, Independent Bank is getting almost $35 million to make available as loans to businesses with sales of up to $50 million, for agricultural loans and for owner-occupied real estate.

That money is part of the U.S. Treasury’s $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund enacted into law as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. The fund encourages loans to be made to small businesses by qualified community banks with less than $10 billion in assets.

Independent is the second largest bank based in Memphis.

“Our bank’s performance has created the opportunity to offer this important small business incentive program locally,” said Independent co-chair Susan Stephenson. “We look forward to partnering with businesses throughout our community.”

Independent co-chair Chip Dudley said the federal capital is attractively priced and that, as a result, the bank will be able to pass that benefit on through lower-interest loans for small business customers.

Evolve Bancorp. Inc, the parent company of Evolve Bank & Trust, also is participating in the program. Evolve is getting $4.7 million to loan to small businesses.

Another local bank that will be providing Small Business Lending Fund money to small businesses is Magna Bank. Magna is getting more than $18 million from the SBLF.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury also this week announced the state of Tennessee will be able to access almost $30 million in State Small Business Credit Initiative funds to support more than $297 million in new private lending in the state. The SSBCI program is another component of the Small Business Jobs Act.

According to the Treasury Department, Tennessee can expect to generate a minimum of at least $10 in new private lending for every $1 in federal funding.