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Harris, Yellen Eye Community Finance   09/29 06:17

   Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen plan to use 
this year's Freedman's Bank Forum to highlight how federal coronavirus pandemic 
relief program funds have helped support Black- and minority-owned businesses.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet 
Yellen plan to use this year's Freedman's Bank Forum to highlight how federal 
coronavirus pandemic relief program funds have helped support Black- and 
minority-owned businesses.

   The Treasury Department said in a statement that "the importance of 
expanding the community finance system will be front and center" at the Oct. 6 
forum. In 2015, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew launched the annual Freedman's 
conference to develop strategies to address persistent racial economic 
disparities.

   Roughly 96% of Black-owned businesses are sole proprietorships and 
single-employee companies. These businesses have the hardest time finding 
funding and are often the first to suffer during economic downturns. They often 
turn to financial institutions for the underserved and other non-traditional 
lenders for micro-loans and grants.

   Earlier this month, Treasury announced that it had disbursed roughly $8.28 
billion in relief funds to 162 community financial institutions across the 
country through its Emergency Capital Investment Program.

   The forum will include a panel on new support for community finance 
institutions, small businesses and low wealth communities, "all in an effort to 
unlock the economic potential of communities of color, rural areas, and others 
that have experienced limits on economic opportunity," the department said.

   A February Government Accountability Office report outlined how various 
agencies could improve efforts to increase banking access for people who don't 
have access to bank accounts.

   The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the National Credit Union 
Administration and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency were all 
identified for improvements.

 
 
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