Astoria-based Alma Bank hasn’t just increased its small business lending since qualifying for a new federal loan assistance program in September 2011 — it raised it more than almost any bank in the country.
Out of 281 banks that qualified for money from the Small Business Lending Fund, one of President Obama’s jobs initiatives, Alma demonstrated the fourth best performance in dollar terms, and the highest overall in loan portfolio growth.
All that, and the bank isn’t even five years old yet.
“We understand that small businesses need credit to grow, to acquire necessary equipment and to hire workers to buildtheir business and engage customers,” Alma Bank executives Renos Kourtides and Panos Stogioglou said in a prepared statement. “As part of President Obama’s economic stimulus incentive such as the Small Business Jobs Act, the subsequent SBLF program has shed light on grassroots-level small businesses and fuels the promotion of more local economic growth and jobs. This incentive enables small banks likes us to better extend lending to our local community customers, which in some cases need loans to survive. Alma Bank is here to help small businesses grow with access to the highest level of service to its customers.”
Alma received $19 million from the SBLF program, and subsequently increased its lending by 156 percent. Overall loan growth is even higher. For the 12 months ending in June 2010, Alma loaned $91 million to small businesses. Over the next 15 months, it loaned out $235 million.
All kinds of business may qualify for loans from Alma. Loans of up to $10 million are available for firms with up to $50 million in annual revenue. The kinds of business that qualify include construction companies, wholesale and retail operations, manufacturers and more. A large share of Alma’s loans have gone to restaurants, technology companies and construction firms.