THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Warner. And I praise you for your leadership in the Senate. When we served there together, you were so passionate and enthusiastic about the importance of the work and the possibilities that exist to grow the work and, obviously, the impact that we can have in so doing.
So I thank you for your leadership and your friendship.
And greetings to everyone. It’s great to be with everyone today. As we know — you know, I’ll start with just a basic principle that I think we all agree with and share, which is: America is a nation that is powered by the ambition and the aspirations of her people.
And at the source of the spirit behind so much of this work is just that — it is about the ambitions and aspirations of the American people, of the entrepreneurs that are living among us, and doing what we can to invest in their capacity knowing that we all benefit from that work.
And the ambition is the ambition to start a business, to own a home, to get an education. And that is what I think we all believe drives America forward. We know the benefit is that it creates jobs, it sparks further innovation, it expands the economy, and it makes our nation more competitive.
But achieving that success requires access to capital — access to capital. To buy, for example, inventory, you need capital; to make a down payment, to hire employees.
So, to grow, these entrepreneurial, smart people simply need access to capital. They’ve got the ideas. They’ve got the ability and the wherewithal to do the hard work, but they need access to capital. And the issue here is that we know not everyone in our nation has equal access to this essential support.
Consider, for example, that Black entrepreneurs are three times more likely to report that they did not apply for loans for fear of being turned away by a bank. And it is usually because they have anecdotal evidence — based on relatives, neighbors, and friends being turned away — that they believe they also will be turned away.
Black and Latino homeowners are rejected by traditional financial institutions at a higher rate when applying for home loans. And this is the case, by the way, even when they have credit profiles that are similar to other applicants.
For many Asian American business owners, in particular immigrant business owners, language barrier limits their ability to access capital and banking services. And people who live in rural communities, including many Native Americans, often lack access to traditional financial services of any kind.
I have worked, along with Mark Warner and many — and the honorable Maxine Waters and so many others. For years, we have been working on these issues and to address these disparities. As Senator Warner said, together with my then and — and Senate colleagues Cory Booker, Senator Warren, Chuck Schumer, and then, of course, Chairwoman Waters, we invested $12 billion in community lenders, which are financial institutions that predominantly serve overlooked and underserved communities.
In December of last year, with Secretary Janet Yellen, I announced that nearly $9 billion of that $12 billion investment would be made available through the Emergency Capital Investment Program, or ECIP, as Senator Warner described. And we encouraged community banks to apply.
As Senator Warner described, we have distributed almost $9 billion to 162 community banks across our nation, and that is the — that’s the announcement we are making today: that we have distributed almost $9 billion to 162 community banks across our nation. That is almost $9 billion on the ground in communities right now.
For example, in North Dakota, Native American Bank lent $10 million to help fund an opioid addiction treatment facility on Tribal lands. In Georgia, Carver Bank lent just over half a million dollars to help a Black-owned housing developer build more affordable housing. In Mississippi, Hope Credit Union, led by the great Bill Bynum, lent $10,000 to a Black- and woman-owned coffee company to help them expand.
So, in conclusion, I’ll say that, today, in communities across our nation, small businesses, non-profits, entrepreneurs, and community organizations are using the ECIP funds to create opportunity and prosperity, not only for their community but for our nation.
President Biden and I are fighting to build a nation in which every person, no matter where they start, has an opportunity to succeed and thrive. Community banks are essential to that goal. And so we, of course, remain committed to working with our colleagues and doing the work to expand these investments.
And I thank you all for your time. And to the partners, I thank you all for the work that you are doing to make this so successful.