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Huntington meets goal of $4B small biz loans

Access to credit dried up in the years after the national economic crisis and businesses and consumers would still argue it can be hard to get.

For those reasons Columbus-based Huntington Bancshares committed in 2010 to lend $4 billion worth of loans within three years to small businesses in its key Midwest footprint. Tuesday the bank announced the goal was met, with 15,400 small Ohio businesses receiving loans to start new companies, expand or buy new equipment.

More than 24,000 companies obtained loans including businesses in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Huntington said.

The bank targeted small businesses under $15 million in annual sales volume, offering credit up to $5 million each. Collectively, small businesses are responsible for more than 66 percent of job creation, Huntington said.

“It was really driven by the sentiment of the times,” said Ron Cloyd, Huntington business banker and community president in Dayton and Springfield. When the goal was made, “the predominant feeling in the market was banks weren’t lending money and stifling growth.”

Huntington made U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loans and conventional loans to meet the $4 billion lending goal, Cloyd said. Also, an additional 150 business bankers were hired in six states including Ohio.

“What really helped us in this market was our interest and ability to do turnaround financing,” he said.

Turnaround loans are loans to companies that suffered revenue declines in the economic contraction, but had a long history of success, more recent profitable quarters and could show rising revenue projections. Commonly in banking when businesses hit a down period, banks look for 18 to 24 months of good performance before loaning again, Cloyd said. Huntington made turnaround loans within 3 to 6 months.

“It enabled them to get access to credit much faster than the industry would usually support,” Cloyd said.

Huntington National Bank is the sixth largest bank by deposits in the Dayton metro, the fourth largest in Cincinnati and second largest in Springfield.

Huntington was Ohio’s largest lender of loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration in fiscal year 2012, which ended last Oct. 31.

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