Aaron Stetter: Grassroots gets it done

Larry Kudlow speaks to a medical professional
Larry Kudlow, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, speaks to a medical professional at an April White House event on the Paycheck Protection Program.

An unprecedented effort by ICBA community bankers nets a PPP set-aside reserve.

By Aaron Stetter, ICBA

There’s power in numbers. ICBA’s community bank members have proven it over and over, and they’ve done it once more—and in record time.

Community bankers turned out in force as part of ICBA’s grassroots efforts to advocate that Congress quickly pass an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and dedicate a portion of the funding to community banks.

An unprecedented number of community bankers used ICBA’s grassroots action center to reach out to Congress. More than 4,000 community bankers sent nearly 12,500 letters to 438 congressional offices in just a few short days. As a result, more than 80% of United States senators and representatives heard directly from community bankers ICBA’s argument that at least a quarter of the funds in the PPP extension should be dedicated to community banks with less than $50 billion in assets.

That’s in addition to community bankers who made their voices heard by picking up the phone to call their members of Congress or the members’ key staffers. These efforts made a massive difference.

Congress heard ICBA’s community bankers. The second round of funding authorized $310 billion in PPP funds, with at least $60 billion set aside exclusively for loans made by community financial institutions, including minority deposit institutions, credit unions and community development financial institutions.

Specifically, the bill dedicates at least $30 billion for loans from institutions with less than $10 billion in assets and another $30 billion for those with between $10 billion and $50 billion in assets.

It’s a testament to the dedication of community bankers who, despite the many frustrations of the PPP rollout, have persevered. They’re working all hours of the day and night to serve their small business customers.

This funding reserve simply wouldn’t have been possible without the proactive efforts of community bankers who spoke up to add their voices to ICBA’s grassroots efforts. More than advocating for themselves, they are advocating for a lifeline for their small business customers and, in turn, the communities they serve.

Unprecedented grassroots efforts on the PPP:

4,007 community bankers reached out to their members of Congress

12,413 letters were sent to members of Congress and their staff

438 congressional officers received these letters

ICBA’s lobbying team supported these efforts with direct lobbying, reaching out to members of Congress to keep the pressure on. Through video conferencing, phone calls, emails and letters, ICBA pushed for more community bank PPP funding, aligning with 29 state-affiliated state associations to call for funds designated for community banks as soon as the first round of funding began to run out. The association also urged the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA) to immediately prepare to administer the community bank funding allocation.

As we move forward through the COVID-19 crisis, the collective might of community banking’s voice will remain critical to supporting America’s small businesses and promoting economic recovery. ICBA’s Grassroots Advocacy Center will continue to provide of-the-moment grassroots tools and talking points to make it easy for community bankers to speak up.

Make sure you are adding your voice to the chorus. Your voice matters.

Make sure Congress knows your community’s needs

Whether it’s making sure community banks have dedicated funds under the Paycheck Protection Program or supporting economic recovery efforts, community bankers need to be in touch with their members of Congress during the COVID-19 crisis.

Be sure to regularly check the ICBA grassroots action center webpage to see sample letters and information on the industry’s most pressing advocacy issues. Find it at icba.org/beheard

Aaron Stetter (aaron.stetter@icba.org) is ICBA’s executive vice president, policy and political operations