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Biz loans on upswing, at least at one bank

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  • | 11:00 a.m. July 17, 2015
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The post-recession recovery has a discrepancy between many bankers and business owners. It's an oft-heard refrain: Bankers say they are lending, yet entrepreneurs can't get loans.

Not at Parrish-based 1st Manatee Bank.

The bank, according to a new report from Independent Community Bankers of America, posted a business loan to total assets ratio of 73.3% through the end of last year (in accounting, loans are considered part of a bank's assets). That's good for ninth among all banks nationwide with less than $500 million in assets. Denver-based Native American Bank, with $65 million in assets, is first on the list, with 118% of business loans to total assets. The report uses Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data through the end of 2014.

The Independent Community Bankers of America, one of the strongest lobbying voices for community banks in Washington D.C., compiled two lists on business loans. One is banks with less than $500 million in assets and the other is banks with more than $500 million in assets. The only bank based in Florida to make either list is 1st Manatee. Only a few lenders on the big banks list, such as Birmingham, Ala.-based Cadence Bank and St. Cloud, Minn.-based Stearns Bank, even have a presence in Florida.

Lewis Benner, president and CEO at 1st Manatee, says his bank's inclusion on the list is vindication that the strategy, to hyper-focus on business loans, is working. The bank has grown assets from $118 million at the end of 2014 to about $138 million through June, and Benner says the rest of 2015 looks promising. “We have a very simple community bank model,” Benner tells Coffee Talk.

A rebounding economy and a smaller community banking industry has also aids 1st Manatee. “The economy is definitely continuing to gain strength,” says Benner, “and the number of competitors continues to shrink.”

Here's a glance at the top 10 community banks nationwide, with less than $500 million in assets, in business loans:


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