The saying “Think globally, act locally” has a parallel in the way news is received.
Headlines emphasizing the big news can seem to imply that important events or acts are happening far away, not in our backyards. It is true whether they are international or digital sources, the national or local press, broadcasters or the written press.
Sometimes the effects – or the participants – are close.
A recent “watchdog” story in the Chicago Sun-Times was an excellent analysis of Small Business Administration data showing how US banks were managing the fees they charged for federal paycheck protection program loans. (PPP). Journalists Lauren Fitzpatrick and Stephanie Zimmerman put into financial context – and geographic context – the banking practice of charging fees to provide federal assistance to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PPP began in April last year after the pandemic forced businesses to shut down, putting at risk not only jobs, but the entire economy. The PPP was intended to help small businesses and their workers, and it was launched with $ 342 billion in forgivable loans. Administered by banks, PPP allows banks to charge processing fees, and U.S. banks earned more than $ 48 billion from such fees from April 3, 2020 through March of this year.
Illinois banks alone issued $ 29 billion through some 239,000 PPP loans and collected $ 1.5 billion in fees, reporters said.
Illinois ranked 10th among states for total fees and 7th for dollars provided in loans, which did not need to be repaid as long as businesses spent all the money to keep employees. on the payroll and pay rent and utilities, âthey wrote.
The Sun-Times article covered Illinois, but naturally focused on Chicago, their main market.
A “deeper dive” also demonstrates the experience of banks in the upstate.
I am not anti-banking. I have accounts at a small independent community bank and a credit union, and a mortgage at a larger (formerly local) bank. This information is therefore intended to show in more detail that the banks in the upstate have generated considerable fees on PPP loans as well as on Chicago institutions.
In addition, the average Illinois bank charges – paid by the government, that is, taxpayers ultimately – were relatively low (5.29%); New Jersey banks average 11.6 percent. Government PPP rules have varied, but in general, banks can charge 1% on larger loans, 3% to 5% on smaller ones, and up to $ 2,500 on loans under $ 50,000.
Again, the borrowers have not paid; taxpayers have done it.
Also, most of the federally guaranteed loans processed by Illinois banks – about 191,000 of them – have gone to businesses in Illinois, which is good. The remainder of the loans, totaling some $ 365 million, went to out-of-state businesses.
The banking industry is defending the practice of handling fees while the nation is getting its money’s worth by asking banks to ensure funds get to businesses quickly. But critics say it would have been just as quick and cheaper to eliminate the processing step as some European countries have done with direct business payments.
For statewide reference, here are the top 10 banks in Illinois that charged fees for processing PPP loans (along with their headquarters and statewide presence) and the PPP fees they charge. they were charging, according to the SBA and bankbranchlocator.com.
Six of the 10 are based outside the city of Chicago and three operate exclusively in the upstate.
â¢ BMO Harris Bank (Chicago HQ: 184 branches in 107 communities; 2 upstate) – $ 232,882,250
â¢ First Midwest Bank * (Chicago: 100 branches in 70 cities; 7 in lower state) – $ 79,856,409
â¢ CIBC Bank USA (Chicago: 19 branches in 17 communities; none in the lower state) – $ 59,666,551
â¢ Busey Bank (Campaign: 58 branches in 42 communities; 28 downstate) – $ 46,690,490
â¢ Byline Bank (Chicago: 60 branches in 23 cities; none in the lower state) – $ 45,269,415
â¢ Wintrust Bank. (Rosemont: 31 branches in 7 communities; none in the upstate) – $ 41,469,092
â¢ Carrollton Bank (Carrolltown: 6 branches in 6 communities; all downstate) – $ 30,977,431
â¢ First Mid Bank & Trust (Mattoon: 60 branches in 41 cities; all upstate) – $ 25,697,197
â¢ Morton Community Bank ** (Morton: 34 branches in 27 cities; all upstate) – $ 23,407,018
â¢ First American Bank (Elk Grove Village: 49 branches in 38 communities; none in the lower state) – $ 23,071,822
* Last month, First Midwest merged with Indiana-based Old National Bank, and the new entity will operate as Old National, with headquarters in Evansville, Indiana and Chicago.
* A subsidiary of Hometown Community Bancorp, Inc.
Bill Knight has been a journalist, editor and columnist for over 50 years. Also an author, Knight is Emeritus Professor of Journalism at WIU, where he taught for over 20 years. Contact him at [email protected]; for archives, go to https://mayflyproductions.blogspot.com/.