Local banks have been consistently closing in rural areas. The in-person service, which was once so crucial for small business financing, is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Banks are relocating to more populated areas, and larger banks continue to consolidate smaller community banks. These larger banks use algorithms, rather than personal relationships to evaluate a borrowers creditworthiness.
This trend is making it harder for many rural borrowers to qualify for business loans.The value of small business lending in rural areas is now half of its 2004 peak. Much of this decline is a result of the recession, but the amount of small business lending in urban areas only declined by a quarter over this same period. The numbers demonstrate that business owners in more populated areas are not facing the same difficulties as their rural counterparts.
The decline is having a drastic impact on business activity in less populated areas. Research by Colorado State University economist Stephan Weiler demonstrates a link between the reduction in small business loans and new business formation in rural areas two to three years later. His research did not reveal a similar pattern in urban areas.
Community banks have been leaving rural areas for decades, making commercial loans harder to find
There has been a measurable decline over the past 20 years in the number of smaller community banks in rural areas. These community banks were once the sole source of credit for many small businesses in these areas. 625 of Americas 1,980 rural counties have no locally owned community bank. 35 rural counties in America have no bank at all, and 115 have only one branch.
Lenders cite specific difficulties in rural areas.”It’s very hard to find highly competent commercial loan officers who want to live in these small towns and can produce an adequate amount of production,” said Jerry Rexroad CEO of Carolina Financial Corp.
Rural businesses also lack the detailed information which is used by many larger banks to assess the creditworthiness of borrowers. However, economic difficulties in rural areas make it harder for banks to do business.
Economic difficulties are making commercial loans harder to find in many areas
Rural areas face unique economic challenges. Employment growth suffers due to weak school systems. Local businesses suffer due to competition with big-box stores and few small business owners have seen their credit situation improve since the recession. Business lending in rural areas has not picked up since the recovery began. Although new small dollar loans have been on the rise, rural areas have only seen a modest increase.. Only 10 percent of new small business loans, roughly 22 billion, have been issued in rural areas since the recovery began.
It remains unclear whether the banks themselves or the economy in these areas are to blame these hardships. Nonetheless small town businesses will face difficulty securing financing for the foreseeable future.
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About the Author: Dennis has been working in the real estate industry in some capacity for the last 40 years. He purchased his first property when he was just 18 years old. He quickly learned about the amazing investment opportunities provided by trust deed investing and hard money loans. His desire to help others make money in real estate investing led him to specialize in alternative funding for real estate investors who may have trouble getting a traditional bank loan. Dennis is passionate about alternative funding sources and sharing his knowledge with others to help make their dreams come true. Dennis has been married to his wonderful wife for 42 years. They have 2 beautiful daughters 5 amazing grandchildren. Dennis has been an Arizona resident for the past 40 years.