Citizens Financial Bank is setting aside $10 million to lend to small business clients in conjunction with the bank opening its Center for Small Business in Highland.
Dale Clapp, executive vice president of Munster-based Citizens Financial Bank, said small business lending already has been part of the bank's operational push, but wanted to better promote itself to customers who may be more familiar with the institution doing residential and real estate lending.
The center opened Jan. 1 at 3853 45th St. and is designed as a one-stop location to build personal relationships with clients. John Freyek, first vice president at Citizens Financial Bank, is managing the center and will work with members of the bank's retail and business banking team throughout its 20 branches.
With the lending program, bank executives said they want to get funds into the community to help boost business prospects and the region's economy.
"We hope that between now and the end of the year, we'd like to surpass that $10 million, but if we could do $20 (million) or $30 million we'd be thrilled," Clapp said.
Clapp said the institution has been able to boost its commercial and industrial portfolio from $50 million in 2007 to about $95 million at the end of 2012. That lending is about 20 percent of the bank's total commercial portfolio.
Freyek said there isn't a minimum and maximum amount of funds a firm could receive from the funds available, but there will be a focus on finding enterprises that have credit needs of less than $250,000. The center also will offer advising services for loans, deposits, succession planning and other business developments.
Citizens Financial Bank has $1.2 billion in assets and has been in operation as an independent bank since 1934. CFS Bancorp Inc. is the bank's parent company.