Applause in the South Bronx for CDFIs

  • “We’ve shown that it can be done,” Pallas said. “And there should be more of us.”

March 10, 2014, NEW YORK (CDFI Connect) - A South Bronx congressman today lauded the CDFI Fund for its impact on his home district.

“These are tax dollars working in the best possible way,” said  Rep. José E. Serrano, a long-serving Democrat who is the ranking minority member on the Financial Services Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

Serrano spoke at Spring Bank, a newly minted CDFI whose main office is in the Bronx, and which has recently begun a marketing campaign to highlight some of its success stories.

Spring Bank, which opened in 2007, also has a branch in Harlem. It is one of only three bank CDFIs in New York state.

Eric Pallas, president of the bank, which describes itself as a mission-driven lender specializing in commercial loans that support small business and property development, said community-based banking fills an important niche in the Bronx and that there is room for such lenders to grow.

“We’ve shown that it can be done,” Pallas said. “And there should be more of us.”

Serrano, who has championed the CDFI Fund for years, said Spring Bank has a record of granting customers a “respect and dignity” they aren’t accustomed to at larger banks, and that such practices are emblematic of CDFI lenders.

“Whether it’s a person with $1 million or a person with $50, they are treated the same,” he said.

Serrano added that CDFIs in general offer strong alternatives to payday lenders, which he noted have proliferated in recent years.

Spring Bank, which makes almost 60 percent of its loans in neighborhoods considered by the federal government as “community reinvestment” areas, provides checking, savings, and small-dollar credit accounts, and has about 2,500 retail customers, according to Brian A. Blake, vice president of marketing. It has roughly $100 million in assets.

At Monday’s event, bank officials introduced two borrowers who had tapped Spring Bank for crucial business loans: Hamad Ali, owner of Modina Poultry, and Robert Heinemann, CFO of Procida Construction.

The bank also used the occasion to announce plans for a pilot program this year to promote affordable consumer credit program. The program, “Borrow & Save,” allows customers to establish or repair their credit history and to simultaneously develop better savings habits.

More here on Spring Bank.

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