Economists rarely agree on much of anything these days but one area in which many of them do concur is that small businesses will drive much of the sorely needed job growth in America. And to help kick-start that expansion, Bank of America says it has hired 350 Small Business Bankers and plans to hire another 650 across the U.S. by early 2012.
The term "small business" is a somewhat relative term. Generally, it means any business that has less than $20 million in annual revenues, which to some, may not seem all that small. Bankers who service this group typically consult with owners at their place of business, giving them access to credit as well as direct sources of revenue that will, among other things, support the hiring of new employees.
In a statement released today, David Darnell, president of Global Commercial Banking for Bank of America, said the goal is to provide "a wide range of efforts - all aimed at building deeper relationships and growing this crucial source of new jobs."
BofA has approximately four million small business clients and says credit extended to small business customers is up 35 percent this year.
In addition to more lending, BofA says it has increased the amount in grants it is awarding to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and similar organizations to unlock low-cost capital for small businesses.
Created as a $10 million program last year, the program has been increased to $12 million, which CDFIs can use to access up to $100 million in government lending capital. To date, CDFIs have accessed nearly $80 million in capital, which has been used to serve more than 7,600 local businesses and help create and retain more than 10,000 jobs.