Alabama Banker Highlights Importance of Federal Funding for CDFIs

Testifying at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing today, Bob Jones, president and CEO of United Bank in Atmore, Ala., shared how support from the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund has helped his bank (one of the 134 certified CDFIs in the U.S.) play a direct role in supporting low and moderate-income individuals and businesses.

Jones — who is also vice chairman of the American Bankers Association Foundation board of directors — urged lawmakers to appropriate at least $300 million to the CDFI fund for fiscal year 2020, that would include at least $35 million for the popular Bank Enterprise Award program, which encourages banks to increase their investments and loans in disadvantaged communities. United Bank has used its BEA funds to finance, among other things, a small-dollar lending and financial education program aimed at reducing local consumers’ dependence on payday loans; loans to small businesses, including minority- and/or woman-owned firms; and a small business incubator offering technical assistance to small startups, Jones noted.

“Given the benefit generated by the BEA program, it is critical to increase funding,” he told House lawmakers. “The return on investment — both in social and financial impacts of increased entrepreneurship and financial independence — is too great to ignore.”