A community bank in Southern Virginia with an incredibly impactful lending portfolio
While we’ve been featuring a lot of CDFIs recently, we want to remind our audience that just because a banking institution is a CDFI doesn’t mean that they’re effectively lending to the communities they work in. While they may meet the requirements mandated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the CDFI Fund, these requirements are more about what kind of communities these banking institutions work in rather than the work they do. For example, a bank can work exclusively with low-income individuals, but still have a very low net-loans-to-deposits ratio, meaning that only a small percentage of their deposits are actually being put to use through lending.
Alternatively, at Better Banking Options we always check to make sure that the bank is not only working with low- and moderate-income families, but that they’re prioritizing either small business lending or low- and moderate-income housing loans. Without a significant portion of their assets going to these areas of lending, the bank may be providing essential services in the neighborhood, but your deposits are not going to be effectively working for community development.
Bank of Charlotte County is a community development bank that didn’t set out be one, but through intentionally serving the towns they work in, they’ve been able to provide capital to areas which may have otherwise struggled to stay afloat. It’s no secret that every year, more people, and jobs, move to metropolitan areas, and this has caused many small towns across America to disappear. Banks like Bank of Charlotte County are exceptional Better Banking Options in these types of communities, even without any low-income designations, because they wholeheartedly devote their deposits to both small business and low- and moderate-income housing loans. This kind of lending will keep people in their family homes, keep local businesses healthy and overall just make it possible for people to continue living in small, rural communities.
We usually look for banks that devote 30% or more of their lending portfolio to housing, but at Bank of Charlotte County, they make 54% of their loans in housing. Even more incredibly, 90% of that goes to low- and moderate-income households. All of their four locations are in low-population towns which are primarily low- and moderate-income, and they are effectively lent out, with 91% of their deposits being used for lending. With this much of their lending being devoted to housing, you’d think they would only do a marginal amount of small business loans, but they also devote 23% of their lending to small business and 11% of it to small farming. These statistics are exceptional and demonstrate that you don’t have to have earned a CDFI designation to be an extremely effective community development lending institution.
Even working in communities as small as they do, Bank of Charlotte County was able to amass a total of $135 million in assets, demonstrating just how many people in the neighborhoods they work in bank with them. They may have earned this loyalty through their reputation as a family bank, as their first president opened the bank in 1912 and served as its president for 60 years. They claim lasting relationships, personal service, and rural financing as their specialties, and it’s clear from their devoted service to their hometown, Phenix, VA, even though the town has a population of just over 200 people, and the other small towns in the area, that they’re a bank with small focus, who has a big impact on their community.
Although this bank works in a pretty limited area, the work they do is vitally important to that area. They don’t offer mobile banking but do offer online banking options, so anyone looking to invest in this Better Banking Option can do so. Even if you just want to move a portion of your banked assets there, investing in institutions like these keeps rural American Life alive. Check out their website to get started today.