The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be extraordinary and far-reaching. To date, Comerica Bank and the Comerica Foundation has invested more than $9 million in COVID-19 relief efforts for small business and community programming support across its five-state footprint.
These funds have primarily been deployed to Community Development Financial Institutions to support strategic programs designed to meet the needs of small and micro businesses and underserved communities. Funds have also been given to community service organizations that provide services to youth, seniors and other vulnerable populations also have received grants as part of this effort, particularly those organizations addressing food insecurities and access to health care.
“As a relationship bank, we are committed to assisting the communities we serve navigate through these difficult times,” said Mo Corker, Florida External Affairs Manager. “Our goal is to consistently raise expectations of what a bank can be through our efforts to help those disproportionately affected by the pandemic.“
Housing and Rent Assistance
Comerica has allocated dollars to support nonprofits providing housing and rental assistance to low- to moderate-income families. Florida Community Loan Fund ($25,000 grant), HOMES ($7,500), Consolidated Credit Solutions ($3,750) and Housing Foundation of America ($2,500) received grants to assist residents through loans and counseling.
“We at Consolidated Credit are proud to have partnered with Comerica Bank during these trying times due the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing financial crisis,” Maria A. Gaitan, Director of Community Outreach and Housing Counseling Consolidated Credit. “With Comerica Bank’s financial support, we were able to respond to the needs of Broward County renters and homeowners and increase staffing hours to meet the counseling needs of the local population.”
Small Business Support Business $ense
Locally, over the past six months Comerica Bank, in collaboration with Consolidated Credit Solutions, Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, Florida Prosperity Partnership, Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council and the Minority Business Development Center, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. and SCORE Broward hosted virtual Business $ense bootcamp sessions. Comerica Bank Florida Market External Affairs Manager Mo Corker launched these free online financial education sessions to help under-resourced businesses acquire technical assistance and tools needed to scale and sustain during these unprecedented times. Corker as well as other local bankers also led and participated in various sessions.
Community Development Financial Institution Investments
Comerica has made multiple investments with Community Development Financial Institutions in support of these organizations’ small business lending programs. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, small businesses have struggled with access to capital, and these lenders provide more flexible terms than most traditional sources.
Most recently, Comerica has made a $250,000 investment in Ascendus, formerly Accion East, a nonprofit organization which empowers low- to moderate-income (LMI) business owners with financial assistance and education. With economic opportunity, these entrepreneurs – often individuals of color and women – can build assets, better provide for their families, create employment opportunities for their neighbors, and strengthen their communities.
“Ascendus believes in creating a world of financial ascension for all,” said Paul Quintero, CEO of Ascendus. “For small business owners in Collier County, this means access to capital to manage through this pandemic. Thanks to the grant from Comerica, Ascendus now has the kind of flexible capital needed to support Collier County’s businesses at this very difficult moment.”
Underserved Broward County communities and small businesses also have the opportunity to benefit from the bank’s national CDFI contributions to Lendistry ($1.5 million) and Clearinghouse CDFI ($1.1 MM) in addition to Comerica’s partnership with the National Business League that includes a $1 million investment to assist in launching the Black Capital Access Program.
Hunger Relief Efforts
Comerica Bank has funded $35,000 in grants aimed at fighting hunger in South Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mount Olive Development Corporation (MODCO) received $25,000, while the bank awarded Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County $10,000.
The grant from Comerica has allowed Mount Olive Development Corporation to serve hot meals to low-income families throughout Broward County in response to the current food crisis.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated the issue of food insecurity for poor people living with HIV in Broward County,” said Dr. Rosalind Osgood, MODCO Chief Executive Officer. “Food is a necessity for them because without food they are unable to take daily antiviral medications, which mitigates the spread of the virus in their bodies. Comerica’s philanthropic contribution to the Mount Olive Development Corporation was a lifeline for 42 HIV heads of households and their 18 children, The contribution provided 5,760 hot meals and snacks for our biweekly Grab and Go Food Distribution for the past six months.”
“Although the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise, Comerica’s act of kindness coupled with the love of our staff has given some relief and hope to these families as they struggled to survive the emotional and economic impact of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic daily.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs provided its members, many who attend Title I schools, with snacks and hot dinners after school and on the weekends.
Comerica also donated an additional $15,000 to Broward Partnership for the Homeless, Collier County Hungry and Homeless and Feed the Hungry of Palm Beach County.