Banner Bank Creates Opportunity Fund to Support Minority-Owned Small Businesses; Launches with Initial $1.5 Million Investment

October 20, 2020

Small business owners working late with laptops

On behalf of Banner Bank, President and Chief Executive Officer Mark J. Grescovich today announced the creation of the Banner Bank Small Business Opportunity Fund to help address social and racial injustice by augmenting the economic viability of COVID-19-affected minority-owned small businesses. Launched with an initial $1.5 million investment, the Fund will assist underserved small businesses with gross annual revenues of $1 million or less that are owned by black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) as well as businesses located in economically disadvantaged rural and urban communities. 

“Establishing the Banner Bank Small Business Opportunity Fund is an important step in expanding our efforts to find new, meaningful ways to help eliminate racial and social inequities,” Grescovich said. “Small businesses are the backbone of the local, regional and national economy and ensuring they have access to financing and financial assistance has been a priority throughout our 130-year history—this Fund is one more way we can bring about positive change while helping businesses thrive.”

Because it’s vital to get funding to businesses as soon as possible, Banner is partnering with three well-known and highly-respected Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, that are already mobilized and actively assisting small businesses in our footprint. CDFIs provide specialized credit and financial assistance to underserved markets and populations. With $500,000 investments to each of these three CDFIs, they in turn will identify and administer financial assistance in the form of low-cost loans, grants and credit enhancements, generally up to $10,000 to each qualifying business: 

  • Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) specializes in assisting rural communities in every state Banner serves. Banner contributed to RCAC’s Re-Emerging Loan Fund (RELieF) to assist qualifying businesses as they re-emerge into their marketplaces post COVID-19. Each borrower will be assigned a coach to work with them to analyze their current financial position and work through scenarios for the highest and best structure for RELieF funding, tailored to the business’ specific situation. Learn more at www.rcac.org.

  • Craft3 is a non-bank community lender that provides commercial loans to established nonprofit organizations and growing and start-up small businesses in Washington and Oregon. Our investment will allow Craft3 to increase its financing and services to underserved BIPOC entrepreneurs in the markets we serve in Washington and Oregon. To learn more, visit www.craft3.org.

  • Lendistry provides small business owners access to capital through SBA, term and commercial real-estate loans and lines of credit, as well as business advising and technical assistance services to help them expand, improve and/or sustain their businesses. By forming a new Banner Bank Fund, they will direct financial assistance to businesses in our California footprint. This fund is expected to be live beginning December 1, 2020. Learn more about Lendistry at www.lendistry.com.

“Social and racial injustice is a complicated issue that requires a multi-faceted approach from us, our industry and frankly all businesses,” Grescovich said. “At Banner, we remain committed to doing our part to accelerate the change our nation so desperately needs. There is much more work to do—establishing this Fund is simply one more step in turning our intentions into action.” 

 
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