On Monday, October 24, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) and Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios, along with State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Aravella Simotas and Council Member Peter F. Vallone, Jr., held a press conference to discuss the U.S. Treasury Department's Small Business Lending Fund and other opportunities to help small businesses in Queens. Crowley and Rios were joined by Kirk Karabelas, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Alma Bank, which received $19 million from the U.S. Treasury Department's Small Business Lending Fund earlier this year and, as a result, increased loans provided to small businesses in the community.
"I am so grateful the Treasurer of the United States, Rosie Rios, took the time to come to Queens and meet with local business owners face-to-face. We have such a vibrant and growing group of small business owners in the area, and it's great to know the federal government has taken notice and wants to help them grow and succeed," said Rep. Joe Crowley. "Small businesses are the economic engine of Queens and we must do everything we can to support them during these tough economic times. My thanks to Treasurer Rios and Alma Bank for their joint efforts to support Queens small businesses. Not only do their efforts help individual businesses, but they benefit all those who live in and do business in Queens."
"Today's announcement shows that government can play an important role in our nation's economic recovery. By helping our businesses grow during this difficult time, more jobs can be created and our path to prosperity can be made one step shorter. I commend our federal representatives for supporting such a critical measure," said Senator Michael Gianaris.
"I thank Congressman Crowley and Treasurer Rios for their leadership, and applaud Alma Bank for continuing to invest in this community and its people. Astoria was built by immigrants with entrepreneurial spirits. This funding will provide a whole new generation of small business owners with an opportunity to live the American Dream," said Assembly Member Aravella Simotas.
"Small businesses are the backbone of Queens. A quick look at Steinway Street in Astoria will reveal a hub of small family-run businesses, many of which have been serving our community for generations. This federal grant allows Alma Bank, founded and run by local residents, to help our established businesses and new-comers alike for years to come," said Council Member Peter Vallone.
Established as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF) is a dedicated investment fund that encourages lending to small businesses by providing capital to qualified community banks and community development loan funds. Through the SBLF, lenders and small businesses can work together to help create jobs and promote economic growth in local communities across the nation. On August 30, 2011 Alma Bank received $19 million from the U.S. Treasury Department's Small Business Lending Fund.
"From August 30th, the date of receipt of the $19 million from the Treasury, Alma Bank has closed 14 new loans to small businesses in excess of $13 million. We are proud of our record and we will continue to be active and dynamic in fostering economic growth, long term development and job creations in our market area. We look forward to continue in this role and support small businesses and entrepreneurs of our community," said George Katsiaunis, president of Alma Bank.