FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ICBA Represents Nation’s Community Banks at Treasury and SBA Forum on Small Business Lending
Washington, D.C. (November 18, 2009)—Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) Immediate Past Chairman Cynthia L. Blankenship, vice chairman and chief operating officer of Bank of the West, Grapevine, Texas, and ICBA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Paul Merski today represented the nation’s community banks at a small business financing forum hosted by the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration (SBA). Blankenship also participated on the small business lending panel with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and SBA Administrator Karen Mills.
“America’s small business sector is more important than ever and is a critical component of our country’s economic recovery,” Blankenship said. “ICBA appreciates Treasury and the SBA for recognizing that our nation’s more than 8,000 community banks are lending and continue to serve the needs of small businesses within their communities, especially during these challenging economic times.”
The event, which President Obama called for last month, is part of a larger effort to help small businesses grow, create new jobs and contribute to our economic recovery and to challenge the private sector to increase lending to small businesses. Community banks are the cornerstone to small business lending. In fact, community banks, which represent about 12 percent of all bank assets, support 31 percent of all small business loans less than $1 million and half of all small business loans under $100,000.
While recent efforts, such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, have helped many small businesses ride out this deep recession, more still needs to be done. In particular, ICBA has called on Congress to support the following:
- Extend the SBA fee reductions and higher guarantee levels through fiscal year 2011;
- Make permanent the Rural Outreach and Community Express programs;
- Increase the SBA 7(a) loan limit from $2 million to $3 million to $5 million with higher guarantee amounts attached; and,
- Make permanent the SBA secondary market facility authority.
Even with tremendous fiscal and monetary stimulus and SBA incentives, efforts by community banks to expand lending will be hamstrung if regulatory burdens are dramatically increased. ICBA will continue to urge lawmakers to be cautious so that common-sense community banks can continue to lend to Main Street’s small businesses nationwide.