While large banks did not provide support to many small Illinois businesses trying to access federal funds to survive, one regional financial institution, First Midwest Bank, relied on the IHCC‘s work helping those most in need during the Coronavirus crisis.
Vice President, Community Development Manager at First Midwest Bank, Lesly Flores, explained during the two-week period approved by Congress for the PPP program, many small businesses with less than 50 employees felt hopeless and ignored by some banks and desperately came to First Midwest for help.
First Midwest Bank approached the IHCC and in a short time helped many small Hispanic business owners recommended by our organization to apply for the PPP, even if they were not clients.
In fact, Flores explained, businesses that did not gain access to federal funds before they were completed are on the list to continue the process now that Congress has approved a new extension.
The First Midwest Bank executive explained that the IHCC is highly qualified to speak and listen to businesses, being an organization that acts with transparency and has a vast experience in supporting financial education for the Hispanic communities.
We often see minorities (basically, Hispanics and African Americans) not applying for any financial assistance not knowing how the process works or not receiving the proper advice. That’s why the IHCC’s work is so important, and that is the reason we trust them, Flores said.
With the worldwide crisis, many small Hispanic businesses, both in Illinois and other states, do not have any relationship with banks, which complicates their situation in times when it’s most needed.
First Midwest Bank has a 5-employee division dedicated exclusively in building bridges with communities.
Flores explained the team seeks to support organizations like the IHCC, which helps businesses with all the paperwork needed to apply for any program’s assistance.
“First Midwest Bank biggest goal is helping small businesses to grow,” said Lesly Flores.
Helping the community
That’s why First Midwest Bank has staff who speak Spanish and are constantly promoting programs for small Hispanic businesses.
Part of their job’s responsibility is to visit under serve communities to learn and listen in which way they can help. “All banks have staff relating to their communities, but our smaller institutions have a faster approach with fewer obstacles, our priority is to facilitate the process.
First Midwest Bank has a strong presence in Illinois. They also have offices in Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin (where they just acquired a local bank).
Everything is going to change
Another recommendation from Flores for small businesses is to seek help from the IHCC, which is a serious organization with professional programs focused on business education.
“Smaller businesses are the ones who are suffering the most. Everything is going to change after this crisis. They need to work hand in hand with organizations like the IHCC to learn, get their finances and paperwork in order, and take advantage of federal assistance opportunities at a time its much need it.”
First Midwest Bank is committed to continuing IHCC’s assistance programs support.