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Community Developments Investments (February 2013)

A Look Inside ...

Barry Wides, Deputy Comptroller, Community Affairs, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

  Karol Klim, Community Affairs Officer at the OCC’s Atlanta field office, answers questions on regulatory issues at the State Small Business Credit Initiative Conference in Chicago on October 1, 2012.  
OCC Photo
Karol Klim, an OCC Community Affairs Officer who works in the agency's Atlanta field office, answers questions on regulatory issues at the State Small Business Credit Initiative Conference in Chicago on October 1, 2012. The conference was hosted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 contained a number of programs designed to increase lending and expand jobs in small businesses. One of those programs, the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), was created to provide $1.5 billion in federal support for state programs designed to increase the amount of credit available for small businesses. The funds can be used to reinvigorate existing state small-business credit programs or to develop new ones.

In this edition of Community Developments Investments, we share with you a couple of examples of how the SSBCI program is being used. Cliff Kellogg, Director of the SSBCI at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, provides an overview of the program. He describes several of the most popular types of small-business credit enhancement products that states are funding through the SSBCI.

Idaho is presented as a case study on how a state worked with lending institutions to design and implement a credit enhancement product that would help stimulate small-business lending. Local bankers, through their participation in the Idaho Bankers Association, provided leadership and critical guidance during the process. They expressed the need for a product that addresses the unique circumstances that limit credit to small-business borrowers while being easy enough to understand that it can be adopted by banks of all sizes and types in the state. Rather than developing a customized approach from scratch, Idaho borrowed ideas from a product used in Michigan. Still, adoption presented challenges for the banks, and those efforts are discussed from the perspectives of both a community bank and a multistate regional bank.

The Idaho banks’ commitment to meeting the credit needs of the communities they serve is evident in the interviews with banking leaders. All of them recognized how SSBCI-supported state programs could benefit their small-business customers, and all mentioned their sense of having a civic responsibility to help create jobs and expand the state’s economy. As one banking leader put it, the Idaho SSBCI is “good for the bank, good for our customers, and good for the economy.”

We’ve also included brief case studies showing how two of the more popular SSBCI programs, a collateral support program and a loan participation program, have been used by banks.

Finally, we’ve included links to Treasury Department resources and OCC regulatory questions and answers on the SSBCI, which we hope you will find helpful.  I encourage bankers to attend information sessions held by state SSBCI program sponsors to learn more about the opportunities in their states, and to contact state officials to get information packages about SSBCI-supported state programs. Taking part in these programs can potentially earn banks positive Community Reinvestment Act consideration for small-business lending.

As we go to publication, the SSBCI is in a critical phase of its implementation process. This newsletter is part of the OCC’s effort to raise awareness of the program and to share emerging best practices.