Local Banks Help Launch Interest-Free Loan Program for Minority-Owned Businesses | Coronavirus

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WINCHESTER – Two local banks have joined forces with two other banks in the region to launch an initiative to help minority-owned businesses.

The Banking on Diversity program was created by Bank of Clarke County, First Bank, Bank of Charles Town and The Fauquier Bank.

Together, the four banks have pledged up to $ 1 million in interest-free loans for start-ups and existing minority-owned businesses. The application process will be open until funds are exhausted.

“Historically, our industry has been less than inviting to minority-owned businesses. It is clear that minority owned businesses have a faster rise than others and this group of bankers has decided to create a loan fund that will be available specifically for minority owned businesses in our markets, ”said Scott Harvard, CEO of Strasbourg. First Bank. “We hope that this initiative can be a model for picking up nascent and start-up minority businesses and creating a foundation from which they can thrive.”

Brandon Lorey, CEO of Berryville-based Bank of Clarke County, said Banking on Diversity was formed after the CEOs of all four banks noticed an underserved market during the federal paycheck protection program process. Backed by the Small Business Administration, PPP loans aim to help businesses keep their workers employed during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We wanted to see what we could do to help out there,” Lorey said. “Of course, we recognize that the number of minority-owned businesses that we bank and that our banking competitors do not necessarily represent the composite number (of minority-owned businesses). We need to do something about it and make sure we’re there for everyone. “

Lorey said the four banks worked together during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping each other to ensure PPP documents are done according to guidelines.

“We developed a relationship so that seemed like the natural next step,” Lorey said.

Although banking is a competitive industry, the four CEOs have put this aside to work together on Banking on Diversity.

“I think we’ve recognized that this is something that really represents the fact that community banks are as good as the communities they serve,” Lorey said. “It’s a place where we have to put the community above the competition. “

Eligible businesses can only receive one loan.

The program guidelines include:

Must have MBE certification (minority company)

Annual revenues cannot exceed $ 1 million (business) or $ 500,000 (farms)

Businesses must be located in the Virginia counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, Shenandoah, Warren or in the city of Winchester; the counties of Berkeley or Jefferson in West Virginia; Washington County, Maryland.

Annual individual loan up to $ 50,000 (existing business) or $ 10,000 (new business)

New businesses must have been around for at least 3 months.

Existing businesses must have been in existence for more than 2 years

To be considered a minority business, the business must be 51% owned and operated by one or more minority individuals who are US citizens or legal residents or a 51% stake in a corporation, a partnership, LLC or other entity and is owned by one or more minority persons who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, and the day-to-day management and operations of business are controlled by one or more minority persons .

Eligible individuals can apply to any of the four participating banks, no matter where their business is located. For example, an eligible candidate from Washington County, Maryland can apply to Bank of Clarke County or First Bank.

For more information, visit Bank of Clarke County at www.bankofclarke.bank; Charles Town Bank at www.mybct.bank; Banque Fauquier on www.tfb.bank; First Bank at www.fbvirginia.com.

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