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African American Chamber Teams Up With U.S. Bank And Small Business Administration to Get Word Out About Loan Program for Challenged Communities

CINCINNATI, Oct 24, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- On Monday, October 27 at 10:00 a.m. at the African American Chamber of Commerce, 2945 Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills, U.S. Bank will provide information to Chamber members and other business owners about its Small Business Administration loan program that is geared for businesses in low-to-moderate income communities and areas with high concentrations of Black, African American and other minority residents.

The U.S. Bank SBA Community Express program, piloted this spring to help bolster businesses to invest in areas in Cincinnati that are economically challenged, is for loans and lines of credit up to $250,000, and startup businesses are eligible.

De Asa Brown, President and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce, said that the Chamber has nearly 800 members, and many of them could benefit from this program or know of someone who could. "U.S. Bank's decision to use the Community Express program in Cincinnati comes at a time when additional innovation is needed to direct capital and technical assistance to traditionally underserved populations and communities."

"Nationally, according to National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) monitoring reports, more than 50 percent of Community Express small business loans were made to people of color, and more than 50 percent to women-owned businesses. We look forward to the same successful performance here in the Cincinnati area," said Morris Williams, interim president and CEO of the NCRC. The Coalition worked with more than a dozen banks and community organizations across the country to develop the Community Express Loan program.

"We're offering this program to be able to approve more loans that we would not before and to help strengthen the economies in the communities that we serve," said Kent Stone, executive vice president of U.S. Bank Small Business Banking. "Unlike traditional SBA loans, these loans are specifically designated for economically challenged areas, plus, with the generous government guarantee, it gives us the ability to say 'yes' to loan applications more often."

SBA-qualified Technical Assistance Providers (TAPs) in Cincinnati will assist businesses in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each loan application and will help them create an action plan that articulates the steps the business must take to be successful in the program. They will then refer businesses to the bank when they are ready to apply for a loan. The business owner will hear a response on the loan application in 24 to 48 hours, depending on the size of the loan.

"This is a win - win opportunity for the small business sector and U.S. Bank. There are many small business owners in the targeted communities who have great potential for success but limited access to capital. The SBA Community Express Loan Program now makes it easier for U.S. Bank to finance their business needs. I am sure we will see many successful small business expansions and start-ups, which create more wealth and jobs in a community, as a result of this program," said Bill Fioretti, director of the Business Development Center at the University of Cincinnati, College of Business.

U.S. Bancorp, with $189 billion in assets, is the 8th largest financial services holding company in the United States. The company operates 2,201 banking offices and 4,506 ATMs, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. U.S. Bancorp is home of the Five Star Service Guarantee which assures customers of certain key banking benefits and services or customers will be paid for their inconvenience. U.S. Bancorp is the parent company of U.S. Bank. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at usbank.com.

For additional information about the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce or to become a member call (513) 751-9900 or visit the organization's website at www.gcaacc.com.


CONTACT:          Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky 
                  African American Chamber of Commerce
                  De Asa Brown, 513-751-9900
                  U.S. Bank Media Relations
                  Lisa Clark, 608-877-7517

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