Marketing aid, office space: how two banks support local businesses

But it seemed natural for the Genesis Bank, with $ 57.2 million in assets, one of two banks in the country to be designated a multiracial minority deposit institution. “We’re going to lead with ideas, commitment and brainpower,” Gordon said. “It has become very clear to me and the whole team here that while you can give capital to a borrower, unless they really know how to run their businesses, they are not going to expand and grow. “

While bank-run small business accelerators are not unheard of, most are at much larger institutions, like Wells Fargo, with $ 1.8 trillion in assets, or BMO Harris Bank, with 166 assets. , $ 2 billion in Chicago. More generally, accelerators are typically associated with colleges and universities, and Gordon believes that should change. “It’s really something that belongs inside a bank,” Gordon said. “We have small businesses, nonprofits, start-up churches, anyone who would contribute to the entrepreneurial community around them,” said Jill Castilla, CEO of Citizens Bank. “The bank has a small business lender all the time and I spend a lot of time there. “

Another example of this approach comes from the $ 350 million Citizens Bank of Edmond in Edmond, Oklahoma, which converted 12,000 square feet of office space from a vacant branch into coworking space for employees. small local businesses at the end of 2016. Hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits have walked through the bank’s 405 Vault since then, taking advantage of available office space – which Citizens Bank has since expanded to 40 000 square feet – plus business-themed programming and mentoring provided by outside experts and bank staff. Vault 405 had a dramatic effect on the surrounding neighborhood. The arrival of so many small businesses has sparked a wave of development, as projects totaling $ 80 million have been completed or have been underway since Vault 405 opened.

Generally speaking, a small business accelerator offers support services as well as financing opportunities to participating entrepreneurs. The Genesis Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship provides advice and guidance on matters that fall outside the core function of a corporate client. These include the creation of business plans, digital and social marketing, cybersecurity, branding, insurance, and tax and accounting services. Stephen Gordon, CEO of Genesis Bank in California, addresses attendees at the bank’s Small Business Accelerator.

Citizens Bank launched a second program in 2020, giving start-up retailers space in another building owned by the bank “which had a top-notch storefront,” Castilla said. Dubbed RISE – Retail Incubator for Shopkeeper Experience – and offered in partnership with the Oklahoma-based Independent Shopkeeper Association, the initiative offers attendees a three-month course to familiarize them with the challenges of running a retail business in detail at startup. “Now it’s one of the most invested areas in the Oklahoma City metro area,” Castilla said.

The Genesis Bank Accelerator “is a natural extension of what community banks have done forever in a more formal and strategic way,” added Potts. “It’s a really good commitment from Genesis… Having this accelerating set of resources that can point you in the right direction is often one of the most valuable things you can provide as an entrepreneur. Community banks have historically provided mentoring and advice to their small business clients, but mostly informally rather than creating an accelerator for it, according to Charles Potts, executive vice president and chief innovation officer at Independent Community. Bankers of America. Genesis and Citizens Bank of Edmond charge a fee to participate in their programs. “If you think of community banks, they sit on that kind of hub in their communities,” Potts said. “Bankers have deep and deep relationships with a wide variety of professionals and service providers. They are often the first person a business owner will turn to when business scale and growth begins to occur.

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  • Title: Marketing Assistant, Office Space: How Two Banks Support Local Businesses
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