The Bank provides customized financial solutions to businesses, government and professional customers. Our clients range in size from small businesses to some of the world’s largest companies. We offer traditional lending and depository products, as well as a wide-range of international and global cash management, foreign exchange and international trade finance, derivatives and capital markets services, asset-based lending, real estate finance, public finance, commercial leasing and syndicated finance.
Fifth Third Bank is committed to providing a full-range of financial services to small businesses, including lending to help them expand, improve working capital or enter new markets. We are a Small Business Administration (SBA) Preferred Lender. In 2013, our use of the SBA 7a program—general business loans—was up 93 percent year-over-year.
We also participated effectively in the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) in the states of Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. This program, administered by the U.S. Treasury, allocates dollars to state economic development departments to create need-based loan guarantee programs designed to aid companies in job creation. In our first year in the program, over $25 million was lent to businesses unable to borrow through conventional means.
In May, we began participation in a Veterans Pledge Initiative with the SBA. The initiative was designed to increase lending to veteran-owned businesses by five percent each year for five years. Our results were extremely encouraging: year-over-year SBA lending volume to veterans increased by 283 percent. Also, of the total loans made within Region 5 (Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin), Fifth Third led with 68 percent of the loan total.
In 2013, we wanted to showcase the industriousness of our small business clients and asked our clients to share their stories. We then published them on a special website, www.53.com/curiosityatwork, and asked consumers to vote for their favorite. The winning businesses were awarded cash prizes to further augment their business operations and were featured on the website.
The Bank lent more than $39 billion to businesses of all sizes to foster their growth and enable their hiring plans in 2013.