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Statement issued by The Mission Lenders Working Group in Support of "Community Advantage Loan Program Permanency Act of 2022

November 18, 2022 -- Statement in support of the Community Advantage Loan Program Permanency Act of 2022 

The Mission Lenders Working Group (MLWG), the leading network of U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 7(a) Community Advantage (CA) lenders, today expressed strong support for the "Community Advantage Loan Program Permanency Act of 2022”, introduced by Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Chairman Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Representative Judy Chu (D-CA), a senior member of the House Small Business Committee.

 

The Community Advantage Loan Program Permanency Act of 2022 (HR 9311/S 5102) would authorize the Community Advantage (CA) Loan Guarantee program, which has operated as a pilot since 2011. The CA pilot was launched by SBA in an effort to expand lending in underserved markets by granting mission-oriented lenders, primarily nonprofit community-based lenders, access to 7(a) loan guarantees for loans of $350,000 or less. Under the pilot, a designated CA lender is required to make at least 60% of its loans in “underserved markets” as defined by SBA. 

 

“In the last decade, CA lenders participating in the pilot have demonstrated that Microloan Intermediaries, CDCs, and CDFIs have the commitment, the capacity, the experience, and the trust needed to finance and grow businesses in the underserved markets that SBA has been working to reach” commented Alison Feighan, President of The Feighan Team which staffs the Mission Lenders Working Group.

 

Earlier this year the SBA issued a two-year extension of the CA pilot and worked with the MLWG and others to craft and implement a number of important reforms to the CA program. “ We appreciate SBA extending the pilot but CA lenders are seeking certainty beyond 2024,” said Feighan “and by codifying the program and the role of CA lenders, the legislation will allow SBA to expand its presence in underserved markets through the work of experienced mission-driven lenders and these lenders will continue to cultivate a pipeline of bankable small business customers for conventional 7(a) lenders and banks.”

 

Over the last ten years, experienced CDCs, CDFIs, and Microlenders participating in the CA pilot have demonstrated their skill and capacity as lenders and their ability to finance and support businesses that traditional lenders, including conventional 7(a) lenders, are unable to serve. Compared to 7(a) financing, CA mission lenders have consistently and significantly outpaced lending to Black-, Hispanic-, and women-owned businesses as well as Veteran-owned businesses and start-ups.  

 

Since the CA pilot launched, the SBA has approved a total of $1,050,734,400 in CA loans to 7,673 businesses with an average loan size of $139,000.  Both CA and conventional 7(a) lending fell during the pandemic as lenders shifted their focus to processing PPP loans. In FY 2020, SBA lending started to pick up with CA lenders continuing to target a significant portion of their lending to underserved markets-see comparative data charts here.  By intentionally expanding the definition of underserved markets to include minority-, women-, Native-owned, and other underserved businesses and by requiring a CA lender to make at least 70% of its loans in underserved markets the Community Advantage Loan Program Permanency Act of 2022 will allow SBA to continue expanding the reach of its products and services.

 

“As one of the first mission lenders to be certified as a Community Advantage (CA) lender, I commend Senator Cardin and Congresswoman Chu for their leadership and commitment to small businesses by offering legislation to codify and strengthen a program so indispensable to mission lenders,” said Robert Villarreal, Chief of External Affairs of CDC Small Business Finance and a member of the Mission Lenders Working Group’s Steering Committee. “The bill will allow CDC Small Business Finance and our mission lender colleagues across the country to continue working with the SBA to make sure unbanked and underbanked small businesses get the financing and support they need to launch and become sustainable.”  

 

Since becoming a CA lender, CDC Small Business Finance has made $176 million in CA loans to 1,328 small businesses, including over 500 loans to startups, nearly 150 loans to African-American-owned businesses, 209 loans to Hispanic-owned businesses, and 465 loans to women-owned businesses, according to the MLWG.  

 

“Given the program’s unique features, CA provides a tremendous opportunity to aid in economic recovery and promote business expansion in unbanked and underbanked communities in the years ahead,” Villareal added. “

The Mission Lenders Working Group (MLWG) is a coalition of SBA Community Advantage (CA) lenders that includes SBA Certified Development Companies (CDCs), SBA Microloan Intermediaries and Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) from across the country that share a commitment to financing, supporting, and sustaining underserved and underbanked small businesses. 

The Mission Lenders Working Group urges lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to support The Community Advantage Loan Program Permanency Act of 2022 (HR 9311/S 5102). 

To learn more about the Mission Lenders Working Group and the work of its member CA lenders, please follow this link or email hannah@missionlenders.net.

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