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Hampden Bank joins state program

Date: 10/17/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — Last week, Hampden Bank became the 50th community-based bank to begin its participation in the Small Business Partnership, a program started last year by Treasurer Steven Grossman to invest Massachusetts's government funds in local banks, which then can be used for small business loans.

Grossman met with Hampden Bank President and COO Glenn Welch on Oct. 10 for the announcement of the initial $5 million deposit.

Grossman developed the program in response to taking office and discovering that 60 percent of the state's money was in banks in Europe, Asia and Australia.

"Massachusetts tax dollars should be deposited in Massachusetts," he said and added, "They were chasing yield and return."

Grossman explained his program makes sure the tax dollars are receiving the same interest rates from local banks as they did from international institutions and there is no taxpayer subsidy for it.

The Small Business Partnership works with local banks that take an initial $5 million and use to write small business loans, Grossman explained.

He said that as of June 30, more than 2,500 loans worth in excess of $365 million have been written. The program has "jumpstarted small business loans," Grossman said.

"One of the biggest roadblocks [to small businesses] has been access to capital," Grossman explained. He believes that businesses "are feeling a little more confident" today, even though business conditions are still "tough."

Welch said, "Hampden Bank is proud to be a participant in the Treasury's Small Business Banking Partnership program as implemented by Treasurer Grossman. As a lender of choice to small businesses, this program allows us to further expand our efforts to positively impact the growth and vitality of small businesses throughout the Valley for the benefit of all.

Welch said the future for the state is a collection of smaller companies creating jobs as opposed to a large concern employing hundreds of people. Although Grossman did not have job development figures — the program does not require that information from participating banks issuing the loans — he asserted the loans are helping employment statistics in the state.

Hampden Bank is currently finalizing its loan program, which should be completed in the next several weeks.