A community bank at our core, we pride ourselves on delivering high quality banking
services and solutions to Hoosiers statewide through our six branch locations across Indiana. In addition to providing loans and investments to support economic growth and development in our communities, we are dedicated to serving our communities through educational training programs, volunteerism and more, and are proud to reflect on all we achieved as a team in 2022.
Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Activities in 2022
As a highly regulated financial institution, we are held to supervisory standards that encourage
us to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which we do business, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods. Pursuant to these requirements, our regulator, the FDIC, recently assigned an “outstanding” performance rating after completing their evaluation of the bank.
In shaping our CRA strategies, Merchants has determined there continues to be a significant need for affordable, safe housing and has built unique programs to support access to multifamily affordable rental options and provide for low down payment and first-time homebuyer options for single family homeowners. Serving the low- and moderate-income individuals, and small businesses and farms in our Indianapolis and Richmond markets, has become a core pillar of our business,
one that saw exponential growth in 2022.
Financing of affordable multifamily projects alone eclipsed $600 million, while loans to small
businesses and small farms exceeded $50 million, and residential mortgage loans generated $60 million in local production. We invested in other ways, too. Through financial contributions, we made
significant investments in a wide variety of local non-profit organizations focused on serving the needs of the community and participated in helping individuals and families improve their financial wellness outlook by providing educational opportunities to enhance financial empowerment and capacity building.
Highlights included facilitating access to over $2 million in Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis (FHLBI) grants, launching the Hoosier Homes and First Place mortgage programs, financing new buildings for two local schools, supporting Intend Indiana with their Indy Amp program, and expanding our partnerships with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Indiana, Coburn Place, CHIP Indy, Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity and RDOOR Housing Corporation.
MPACT Program Results in 2022
Our commitment to local nonprofits extends far beyond our financial contributions through the MPACT program, which supports Merchants employees Positively Advancing Communities Together to make an “MPACT” in the communities in which they live and work. The program grants 16 hours of PTO to Merchants employees for volunteer service on an annual basis. In 2022, more than 220 employees logged 3,000 volunteer hours in the communities the bank serves with 900 of those hours targeted to supporting community development organizations and the individuals they serve.
Our employees have also served on community organization boards, provided financial education for area students and residents, built Habitat homes, and supported food pantries by packing and providing shelf-stable nutritious meals. Other MPACT volunteer activities impacted residents through local community development organizations like Junior Achievement, Million Meal Movement, Near East Area Renewal (NEAR), School on Wheels, Dove House, and HAND Inc. (which addresses the housing needs of low- and moderate-income individuals, families and senior citizens). Merchants’ employees also serve on community boards and committees for the Community Investment Fund of Indiana (CIFI), Local Initiatives Support Corporation Indianapolis (LISC), SCORE Indianapolis, Excel Center, and various Chambers of Commerce. Additionally, Merchants supported Coburn Place, a safe housing for survivors of domestic violence and their children, through frequent volunteerism efforts including beautification efforts in the community landscaping and safe haven rooms, financial donations and more. Employees even participated in several onsite blood drives.
Since 2018, Merchants employees have logged more than 8,000 hours of volunteer service as part of the MPACT program. Each year, we recognize our most dedicated volunteers in the MPACT Awards ceremony and recognize one employee with the coveted ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award.
FHLBI - Member Grant Programs
As a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis (FHLBI), Merchants Bank has participated extensively in supporting grant applications under their Affordable Housing Program (AHP) and Homeownership Initiatives. The grant programs include AHP grants with up to $500,000 for gap funding on affordable housing initiatives, the Homeownership Opportunities (HOP) for first-time homebuyers with down payment assistance, Neighborhood Impact Program (NIP) to assist income-eligible homeowners with home repairs, and Accessibility Modifications Program (AMP) to aid seniors and households with disabled family members with home modifications.
As part of our commitment to improving access to affordable housing, Merchants works with multifamily, affordable property developers and project sponsors as a resource in drafting and submitting the AHP application, ensuring the submission meets all required criteria. In 2022, five applicants were awarded a total of $2.27 million in the competitive grant process. Merchants services the AHP grants, monitoring their affordability status, and since 2006, has been awarded over $14 million to support affordable housing projects in Indiana.
Additionally, we support small businesses through the Elevate grant program to help them expand and grow their businesses with up to a $20,000 grant which can be used for capital expenditures, working capital, workforce development and other qualifying expenses.
Merchants is uniquely positioned as a resource to local businesses interested in the Elevate grant. Our team of professionals work to identify local small businesses that meet the Elevate criteria, collaborating with the business owner to complete the grant application and determine how they will utilize the grant proceeds to grow their business. In 2022, our team submitted four applications, two of which were awarded. These two businesses – CrossFit Kokomo and Sapphire Strategy – utilized Elevate funds to support professional development for employees.
The success of these efforts and programs and many others over the past 12 months is a testament to our people, their values and their passion for the work. We look forward to the continued success of these programs well into 2023 and beyond!
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