Three key components: access to capital for small businesses, affordable housing and homeownership, and community lending
By Lexi Browning
West Virginia Press Association
CHARLESTON, W.VA. — Huntington Bancshares Inc. this week announced its $20 Billion 2020 Community Plan, the most significant community commitment in the company’s 154-year history. Seven states, including West Virginia, will receive portions of the investment.
The five-year commitment is composed of three key components: access to capital for small businesses, affordable housing and homeownership and community lending. Huntington is the nation’s largest Small Business Administration lender.
Though community plans typically extend over a five-year period, the company debuted the 2020 plan early to help alleviate some of the stress communities have endured this year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, said Chad Prather, president of Huntington Bank’s West Virginia Region.
The commitment to small businesses is specifically focused on supporting women-, minority- and veteran-owned small businesses. The affordable housing and homeownership initiative is designed to support underserved and low- to moderate-income areas, Prather said. About $7.5 billion will be allocated to each effort.
The remaining balance, nearly $5 billion, will be directed toward philanthropic efforts, specifically “addressing affordable housing, food security and workforce development.”
Prather said the major investment is a testament to Huntington’s core values and continued community support.
“It felt like it was the perfect time because of everything going on,” Prather said. “Since the communities and those who are underserved are in extraordinary need right now, with food insecurity through the pandemic and racial injustice out there, the need was glaring.”
The plan also “falls in line” with Huntington’s role and vision as a lendor, investor and community figure, he added.
“It’s looking out for people and highlighting and emphasizing the need and focus in these areas,” he said. “The pandemic accelerated the program that rolled out earlier than originally planned, but there was such a need. Underserved groups are in critical need of it.”
Steve Steinour, Huntington chairman, president and CEO, said in a press release the 2020 Community Plan was created with input from the communities.
“This plan is the result of extensive listening — listening to our community partners, customers and colleagues to understand their needs and to have robust discussions about how Huntington can best help,” Steinour said. “As a regional bank, we know our impact lies in delivering locally. We’re privileged to partner with many city and neighborhood organizations and community groups who share our commitment to looking out for people.”
Following Tuesday’s announcement, Prather said he and his colleagues spent the entire reaching out to community partners across West Virginia, sharing the news. Across the Mountain State, Huntington has, and continues to partner, with “hundreds,” of community organizations and development efforts, he said.
“It’s going to mean wonderful, amazing things for the state of West Virginia.” he said. “The number of lives touched will be in the thousands.”