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ICBA Voices Avid Support for CFA before Congress

Washington, D.C. (June 16, 2011)-Greg Ohlendorf, president and CEO of First Community Bank and Trust in Beecher, Ill., testified today before the House Small Business Committee on behalf of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA). During his testimony, Ohlendorf discussed the regulatory burdens small business lenders face and voiced avid support for the ICBA-backed Communities First Act or CFA, (H.R. 1697), introduced by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), which would help community banks continue to lend to small businesses and reinvest in their communities. 

"The Communities First Act contains many reforms that would improve the regulatory environment and overall community bank viability, which would be of tremendous benefit to our customers and communities," Ohlendorf said. 

Ohlendorf went on to also voice strong support for Rep. Bill Posey's (R-Fla.) Common Sense Economic Recovery Act (H.R. 1723), which would establish conservative, common-sense criteria for determining when a loan is performing and would provide for more consistent classifications.  "This bill would give community bankers flexibility to work with struggling but viable small business borrowers and help them maintain the capital they need to support their communities," Ohlendorf said. 

In addressing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Ohlendorf said that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should use its authority to grant broad relief to community banks where appropriate.  He also said that ICBA supports legislation recently passed by the House Financial Services Committee to reform the CFPB to make it more balanced and accountable in its governance and rule writing. 

"Community banks are prodigious small business lenders that have little in common with Wall Street firms, mega-banks or shadow banks that fueled the financial crisis," Ohlendorf said.  "Community banks have a much different risk profile because our business model is built on long-term customer relationships-we cannot succeed without a reputation for fair treatment.  We make quality small business loans often passed over by the large banks because our personal knowledge of the borrower gives us firsthand insight into the true credit quality of a loan.  It's these localized credit decisions, made one-by-one by thousands of community bankers that will help restore America's economic strength." 

For more information and to read Ohlendorf's testimony, please contact Aleis Stokes at (202) 821-4457 or visit www.icba.org