A couple of months ago I started my position as an intern for the Atlanta Fed's Jacksonville Branch. I like to think that when I started work here, I knew as much or more about what the Federal Reserve did as the average American citizen, but it didn't take long for me to find out just how little I did know.
Before coming to the Jacksonville Branch, I never would have thought that an initiative like the Regional Economic Information Network (REIN) would be undertaken by the Federal Reserve. I assumed that all of the data used by the nation's central bank were contained in various complex charts and tables, and I did not even dream that they would be concerned with anecdotal information provided by a network of business contacts cultivated and developed for their insights and views of the economy. Nor did I have any idea that the Fed sponsored an Economic and Financial Education program. I was impressed by the amount of energy the Federal Reserve devotes to providing sound economic training to the education community.
There's also another part of the Bank that I learned about—the Atlanta Fed's Community and Economic Development group. Recently, I was asked to help out with a presentation at the Jacksonville Branch on the State Small Business Credit Initiative. Janet Hamer, the senior community development manager at the Jacksonville Branch, had used the Bank's contacts to invite members of the local banking community to hear this presentation.
In attendance were 26 small business loan officers and bank executives from the Jacksonville-area financial community. Also in attendance were members of the financial regulatory community to assist in answering questions that might arise. This particular event was one of seven presentations held in various locations throughout Florida. Statewide attendees included representatives from 60 banks and eight credit unions.
The focus of the program was on the Small Business Loan Support Program, which is part of the U.S. Treasury Department's State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The SSBCI was created as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and in Florida consists of just over $97 million provided to the state by the U.S. Treasury for the purpose of either strengthening existing loan and equity programs or creating new ones.
The Small Business Loan Support Program was designed to guarantee up to 50 percent of the small business loan in order to allow lenders to approve business credit in circumstances that did not quite measure up to their current standards.
Bringing groups together to discuss programs like the SSBCI and to collectively consider how organizations might think about local solutions is a big part of what our Community and Economic Development group does throughout the Southeast. For more information on this important and behind-the-scenes group at the Atlanta Fed and its branches, please visit its website.
By Gregory Walker, an intern with the Jacksonville Branch's REIN group, with additional content from Janet Hamer, senior community development manager at the Jacksonville Branch
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