Q&A: How a New U.S. Bank Lending Program Is Helping Diverse Business Owners

Small businesses are eligible if they are at least fifty-one percent owned and operated by one or more individuals who self-identify as a woman, minority, and/or veteran
May 4, 2023 9:00 AM ET
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Mary Miklethun, who is head of business segment strategy coordination and support at U.S. Bank

Originally published on U.S. Bank company blog

U.S. Bank has launched a new Business Diversity Lending Program that provides credit and financing to help women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses grow and thrive.

The program expands opportunity for a vital portion of the business community and aligns with U.S. Bank Access Commitment™, a long-term approach focused on helping communities of color build wealth. To learn more about the Business Diversity Lending Program, we talked with Mary Miklethun, Head of Business Segment Strategy Coordination & Support at U.S. Bank.

How did the U.S. Bank Business Diversity Lending program get its start?

The U.S. Bank Business Diversity Lending Program is a type of special purpose credit program, or SPCP, permitted by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). These programs are specifically designed to improve access to capital for members of economically disadvantaged classes.

Last year, U.S. Bank acquired MUFG Union Bank, which was a pioneer in implementing a Special Purpose Credit Program 30 years ago. Now we are expanding this Business Diversity Lending Program to U.S. Bank customers. It’s a great example of how both banks are learning from each other to enhance the experience for all of our customers.

How does the Business Diversity Lending program work?

The program is an overlay to our traditional loans and lines of credit, allowing for modified credit guidelines that enable more business owners to access the capital they need to run their business. Through the program, women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses are eligible for reduced credit score and decreased cash flow coverage requirements on most conventional lending products up to $2.5 million. Small businesses are eligible if they are at least fifty-one percent owned and operated by one or more individuals who self-identify as a woman, minority, and/or veteran.

Where is this program available?

The program is available throughout U.S. Bank’s retail footprint. Both new and existing customers are eligible for the program.

How do businesses apply?

Businesses can apply in-person with a banker or online. Customers go through a self-identification process for program eligibility at the time of application.

What other steps is U.S. Bank taking to support diverse businesses?

In 2021, we announced U.S. Bank Access Commitment, our long-term approach to help build wealth, close the racial wealth gap, redefine how we serve diverse communities and provide more opportunities for diverse employees. As part of this commitment, we launched our Access Business initiative that same year to support diverse businesses, starting with the Black community.

In nine cities, we have hired Business Access Advisers (BAA), who provide information, connections and resources to help diverse small business owners sustain and grow their businesses. We plan to expand the team this year, including resources to extend our reach into Hispanic communities. Our BAAs are all knowledgeable about the Business Diversity Lending Program and can help customers interested in applying.