Six Arkansas banks receive federal CDFI awards to invest in economically distressed areas

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,934 views 

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund handed out $25.2 million in awards to 113 banks across the U.S., including nearly $1.5 million to six Arkansas banks to bolster their own lending, investing and service in the state’s most economically distressed communities.

BT Bank & Mortgage in Fordyce, FNBC of Ash Flat, Arkadelphia-based Southern Bancorp Bank, The Bank of Lake Village, Union Bank & Trust Company in Monticello, and Partners Bank of Helena each received the maximum award amount of $245,547 under the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bank Enterprise Award (BEA) program.

Under the Treasury Department’s Bank Enterprise Award (BEA) Program, federal funds are meted out to FDIC-insured depository institutions that have increased investments in CDFI banks, which are then reinvested in these distressed communities to accelerate business growth, job creation, development of affordable housing, and availability of financial services.

In fiscal 2019, Treasury officials said the CDFI Fund received 117 applications requesting over $150 million in BEA funding. Collectively, during the one-year assessment period, the 113 depository institutions receiving award funds increased loans and investments in distressed communities by nearly $362.2 million. Those same banks also provided $26.5 million in loans, deposits, and technical assistance to CDFIs by $26.5 million, and offered financial services in distressed areas valued at $36.1 million.

“Established as part of the CDFI Fund 25 years ago, the BEA Program has successfully incentivized increased bank investment and lending activity in our nation’s most economically distressed communities,” said CDFI Fund Director Jodie Harris. “With today’s announcement, more than $520 million has now been awarded to banks that have elevated their investments, lending and service activities in the nation’s most distressed communities—those where at least 30 percent live at or below the national poverty level and possess an unemployment rate at least 1.5 times the national average—as well as to certified CDFIs.”

Among the award recipients, 110 are so-called “certified” CDFI banks that receive priority status in the BEA program for their work in distress community. Those banks, including Bank of Lake Village, received about $25 million of the Treasury funds in this round. There were 17 minority-owned depositary institutions or banks that were awarded more than $3.7 million in BEA funding.

Altogether, 81 FDIC-insured banks have committed to deploying nearly $3.7 million, or 14.8% of appropriated funds in “Persistent Poverty Counties” which exceeds the Congressional mandate of 10%, Treasury Department officials said.

To view this year’s BEA award book, click here.