Businessmen and women are out to make money. That’s no secret. But just because their goal is a financial return doesn’t mean they’re heartless Scrooges looking to squeeze pennies from every corner. In fact, you may be surprised to find out how much corporations give away every year, both in terms of money and time their employees spend volunteering. Some go beyond that, though, and take extra risks to give opportunities to the less fortunate. One such is Fifth Third Bancorp which recently committed $27.5 billion to transform the communities they’re a part of for the next four years. Yes, that’s billions with a B.
Between 2016 and 2020 Fifth Third plans to devote:
- $10 billion in mortgage credit access, including lending and purchase volume.
- $10 billion in small business loans and investments, including Small Business Administration (SBA) Express loans.
- $6.5 billion in community development loans within Fifth Third’s Wholesale Bank for businesses, including commercial lending, commercial real estate, dealer finance, healthcare services, large corporate lending, mid cap, middle market lending, professional services and structured finance.
- $1 billion in CRA-related investments through the Fifth Third Community Development Corporation (CDC) to support affordable housing, revitalization, historic preservation and small businesses.
In addition to this sizeable amount, they’re also committing $77 million to other investments, services and marketing, including:
- $20 million in housing-related investments, including down payment assistance and homebuyer education.
- $7 million in small business-related investments, including $5 million in Public Investment Programs and Loan Pools and $2 million to support technical assistance providers for small business owners.
- $35 million in CRA donations that support initiatives that would qualify for credit under the federal Community Reinvestment Act.
- $15 million in additional investments that support diverse hiring, supplier programs, retail accessibility enhancements and Fifth Third’s L.I.F.E. (Lives Improved through Financial Empowerment®) programs, which today include the Fifth Third Bank Young Bankers Club®, Financial Empowerment Mobiles (eBuses) and delivery of Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance® curriculum in high schools.
What does this really mean, though? The banks aren’t giving away the money, but they are taking substantial risks to help people buy and maintain affordable houses and start small businesses. If struggling people, with less than ideal credit scores, start successful small businesses, they can raise themselves out of poverty, hire others in their community and transform their lives by their own rich work. Fifth Third’s initiative will allow people to gain access to capital they typically wouldn’t have. It’s not a handout, but it is a chance to change peoples’ lives.