When you’re running a business, the last thing you need is more red tape. Understanding this, Valley National Bank launched its Community Lending platform Sept. 7 to streamline processes for women- and minority-owned businesses.
In 2021, Valley National — which is the principal subsidiary of Valley National Bancorp, headquartered in Wayne (for now) — made nearly 6,200 small business loans in low- to moderate-income census tracts and to businesses with a gross annual revenue of $1 million or less.
The Community Lending Team realized it needed a new platform to organize these types of transactions, one that would make the application and lending process easier and faster by reducing much of the paperwork that could take weeks to process.
The resulting Community Lending solution offers women- and minority-owned businesses access to products such as payroll, commercial mortgages and merchant services. Additionally, when looking at qualifications for loans, the bank considers personal and business credit scores instead of traditional requirements, such as having three years of business history.
The new department is led by National Director of Community Lending Thais Sullivan and has a staff of 15, including New Jersey Regional Director Luis De La Hoz.
“The Community Lending team is committed to looking at financing for these small businesses differently,” Sullivan said in a statement. “We examine their growth potential rather than their current size to determine how we can help drive long-term growth.”
Sullivan added, “During the pandemic we became painfully aware how many businesses weren’t in a position to qualify for emergency funding programs like the Paycheck Protection Program. Minority-owned businesses in particular were less likely to apply, not because they didn’t need the funding, but because they weren’t set up to qualify.”
The bank’s Community Lending program also includes connecting customers with organizations that can provide additional education, mentorship and financing resources such as the Small Business Administration and National Entrepreneurship Association.