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Bank of America expands service to small businesses

WASHINGTON — As part of its plan to hire more than 1,000 new small business bankers across the nation, Bank of America today announced that it has hired more than 75 small business bankers in the mid-Atlantic area, including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and southern New Jersey.

The Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area was among the first three markets to begin hiring, along with Dallas and the greater Los Angeles area.

In Washington, D.C. alone, there are 14,664 firms with fewer than 100 employees, representing 87 percent of the district’s employer-based firms, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These small business owners are often faced with unique and complex financial demands that require personalized guidance from a small business banker who understands a business owner’s unique needs, the company said in a press release.

“Through a relationship with a Bank of America small business banker, customers will have convenient access to local small business expertise and a dedicated resource who knows their business,” said Raj Kochhar, small business banker regional executive for the northeast. “Small business bankers will consult with small business owners at their place of business and assess their companies’ deposit, credit and cash management needs.”
 

Kochhar has been appointed to lead the hiring and management of the effort in the northeast. In this newly created role, Kochhar will oversee the small business banker sales force across the area.

“Our small business customers have told us they want access to more expertise so they can better address the complex financial demands that often arise while running their companies,” said Kochhar. “As small businesses, both in the mid-Atlantic and across the country, continue to help drive our economy forward, our small business bankers will be there to provide them with the solutions they need to better manage their finances and run more efficiently.”

Kochhar has been with Bank of America for 16 years, most recently serving as the senior vice president and consumer market executive for the south beltway part of the mid-Atlantic region, where he was responsible for 39 banking centers in northern Virginia and Maryland. Kochhar joined Bank of America in 1993 as part of the Banking Center Manager College Program. During his 16 years with the bank, he has held several management positions including banking center manager, consumer market manager, and sales performance executive for the mid-Atlantic region.

As a part of its ongoing commitment to small business, Bank of America extended $18 billion of credit to small businesses in 2010, up from $16.5 billion in 2009. As the nation’s largest investor in Community Development Financial Institutions, Bank of America last August began awarding $10 million in grants to nonprofit lenders for use as loan loss reserves required to access federal microlending capital.

As of March 31, 2011, 96 grants totaling more than $6.4 million have gone to nonprofit lenders who have used the funds to access over eight times that amount, $53 million, in microloan capital, enabling them to make more than 3,000 microloans to small businesses and start-ups, helping to retain or create more than 7,000 jobs in local communities across the nation.

As of June 2010, Bank of America has also increased its spending with small, medium-sized and diverse businesses through a commitment to purchase $10 billion in products and services from those suppliers over five years. In 2010, Bank of America has already spent $4.1 billion with small, medium-sized and diverse businesses, tracking ahead of schedule to meet its goal.

Other efforts to help small businesses include recent improvements to the bank’s two million small business credit card accounts, such as no penalty rate increases on existing balances, and enhancements to the Advisor Alliance retirement plan platform, which serves more than 900,000 people from more than 40,000 businesses. Advisor Alliance combines Merrill Lynch investment and advisory services with a choice of diverse, committed partners to provide competitive recordkeeping and plan administration services for businesses’ retirement plan needs.

SOURCE: Bank of America press release

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About Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is a freelance writer and podcaster who has been writing about the RV industry since 2000. He is the former editor of RV Daily Report.