Another black-owned bank leader creating regional economic prosperity is James Sills, president and CEO of Mechanics & Farmers Bank (M & F Bank) of Charlotte, North Carolina. M&F Bank has seen a significant uptick of investments from businesses into the bank during the last few months -- including minority customers such as white corporations and Hispanic-owned businesses that are intentionally investing in a Black-owned bank to invest in the community it serves. The funds are redeployed in the form of loans back into the communities, creating wealth and opportunity and economic stability. Through the Paycheck Protection Program, M&F focused on assisting small- and medium-sized businesses, nonprofit organizations and churches, positively impacting well over 1,000 jobs.
There are 21 black-owned banks across the United States that share the mission of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of America’s promissory note -- all American’s need access to credit. A community without credit is like land without water. Nothing grows. Black banks reach that last mile by looking to make good on American’s promissory note. We can help them do the heavy lifting of raising a community beyond a history of redlining and predatory lending.
Black-led banks ever since Frederick Douglass and the Freedman’s Bureau have been purposed with moving a people that were once considered capital to becoming capitalists. Many of the Black-owned banks offer the same products and services as other banks with comparable rates. The difference is that when we support the Black-owned lending institutions, it creates a ripple effect in underserved communities. A new SBA loan, a car loan, a new mortgage from outside the underserved community creates the water we need to grow opportunity so this can last generations of Americans left to live in an economic desert. We can all grow the equity we seek by reaching out to a minority-owned bank during this August’s celebration of Black Business Month.
Ashley D. Bell is Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration and Entrepreneurship Policy Advisor for the White House Opportunity & Revitalization Council.