Category Archives: Business News

Fifth Third Bank to Boost Supplier Diversity



Fifth Third Bank today announced an agreement with supplier management software solutions provider ConnXus that makes it easier for the Bank to connect with woman- and minority-owned businesses.

“Just as we understand the value of an inclusive workforce that reflects our diverse customers and communities, we understand this value extends to our supply chain”

Stephanie Smith, vice president and director of Fifth Third’s supplier diversity program, said ConnXus will be integral in helping the Bank achieve its goals. “We strive to create a level playing field where diverse suppliers can compete for Fifth Third’s business on a fair and equal basis. We partner with organizations that provide diverse suppliers with opportunities for their businesses to grow and leverage diversity to provide the best solutions for our customers, shareholders, employees and communities. We are thrilled that ConnXus was able to provide the right solution as we work hard to be the best at supplier diversity.”

Fifth Third spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on goods and services, ranging from facility-management services to information technology and office supplies. Awarding more of these contracts to diverse businesses has been a major focus of the Bank’s Strategic Sourcing department.

Daryl Hammett, co-owner and chief operating officer of Mason, Ohio-based ConnXus, said the joint effort will lead the way to create a new standard for supplier diversity in the workplace. “This strategic partnership will bring increased transparency and inclusion to Fifth Third’s cross-functional supply chain. This collaborative effort will streamline spending reporting and set an example for responsible and sustainable supplier management standards across the banking sector.”

Jule Kucera, Fifth Third’s senior vice president and chief diversity and corporate social responsibility officer, said that the partnership with ConnXus reflects the Bank’s commitment to working with diverse vendors. “Just as we understand the value of an inclusive workforce that reflects our diverse customers and communities, we understand this value extends to our supply chain,” she said. “We do not treat supplier diversity as something that’s just ‘nice to do.’ Supplier diversity is a means for keeping the customer at the center of all we do, and it serves as an engine for innovation and growth.”

For more information about Fifth Third’s supplier diversity program, please visit

About Fifth Third

Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. As of Dec. 31, 2017, the Company had $142 billion in assets and operated 1,154 full-service Banking Centers and 2,469 ATMs with Fifth Third branding in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina. In total, Fifth Third provides its customers with access to more than 54,000 fee-free ATMs across the United States. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending and Wealth & Asset Management. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of Dec. 31, 2017, had $362 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $37 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations through its Trust and Registered Investment Advisory businesses. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at Fifth Third’s common stock is traded on the Nasdaq® Global Select Market under the symbol “FITB.” Fifth Third Bank was established in 1858. Member FDIC.

About ConnXus

ConnXus supplier management software solutions simplify the complexities of global supply chains and allow buyers to achieve their goals of responsible and sustainable sourcing. ConnXus is a NMSDC, CAMSC, CPUC and State of Ohio-certified minority-owned business enterprise based in Mason, Ohio, with local, regional and international capabilities. For additional information about ConnXus and their growing suite of supplier management solutions, visit the company’s website at, and to register your company on the ConnXus platform, visit

FEBRUARY 8, 2018



Fifth Third Bank
Danielle Jones, 513-534-0162
Fifth Third Bancorp
Investor Relations
Sameer Gokhale, 513-534-2219

Top Twenty Cities for Minority Entrepreneurs


Houston takes the title as the number one best city for minority entrepreneurs.

Some of the best cities for minority entrepreneurs are outside the Silicon Valley bubble.

Across all 50 states, Houston, Miami and Atlanta are the top three cities that minority business owners are flocking to. From affordability to growth opportunities, these cities are becoming attractive tech hubs for these entrepreneurs to set up shop.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Center for Opportunity Urbanism and the Kauffman Index, B2B company Expert Market recently released its list of the top cities for minority entrepreneurs. To uncover the best places for minorities to live, work and launch a business, the study took into account a number of factors, including the opportunity share for new entrepreneurs, the rate of new entrepreneurs, startup density, economic opportunities for minorities, the number of minority-owned enterprises, startup costs and funding access.

Boasting affordable living costs and a large number of incubators, Houston takes the title as the number one best city for minority entrepreneurs. The city has one of the most diverse populations and its bustling startup scene is full of minority-owned business ventures. It also comes in fourth place for the most economic opportunities for minorities.

Not sold on the southwestern city? Head down to the beach instead. Miami takes the spot for second top city for minority entrepreneurs. The energetic city comes in second place for startup density, and third place for the rate of emerging entrepreneurs. However, if you’re still not enthused, head slightly north to Atlanta, the third top city for minorities. With low startup costs, great access to funding, a high rate of new entrepreneurs and a load of economic opportunities for minorities, Atlanta is a great place for minority entrepreneurs to launch a business.

From Baltimore to New York City, check out the top 20 cities for minority entrepreneurs below.

The Top 20 Cities for Minority Entrepreneurs

1st Houston, Texas

2nd Miami, Florida

3rd Atlanta, Georgia

4th Riverside, California

5th Baltimore, Maryland

6th San Jose, California

7th Dallas, Texas

8th Austin, Texas

9th Orlando, Florida

10th New York, New York

11th San Antonio, Texas

12th Las Vegas, Nevada

13th Tampa, Florida

14th Washington, D.C.

15th Los Angeles, California

16th Charlotte, North Carolina

17th Jacksonville, Florida

18th Denver, Colorado

19th Chicago, Illinois

20th Detroit, Michigan

SOURCE:  This post was originally published on this site

The Small Business Credit Crunch


credit cruch A significant share of locally owned businesses are struggling to secure the financing they need to grow.  A 2014 Independent Business Survey found that 42 percent of local businesses that needed a loan in the previous two years had been unable to obtain one.  Another survey by the National Small Business Association likewise found that 43 percent of small businesses who had sought a loan in the preceding four years were unsuccessful.  Among those who did obtain financing, the survey found, “twenty-nine percent report having their loans or lines of credit reduced in the last four years and nearly one in 10 had their loan or line of credit called in early by the bank.”

Other research shows that the businesses having the most difficult time financing their growth are those owned by women and minorities, startups, and very small businesses (under 20 employees).

One consequence of this credit shortage is that many small businesses are not adequately capitalized and thus are more vulnerable to failing.  Moreover, a growing number of small businesses are relying on high-cost alternatives to conventional bank loans, including credit cards, to finance their growth.  In 1993, only 16 percent of business owners reported relying on credit cards for financing in a federal survey.  By 2008, that figure had jumped to 44 percent.

The difficulty small businesses are having in obtaining financing is a major concern for the economy.  Historically, about two-thirds of net new job creation has come from small business growth.  Studies show locally owned businesses contribute significantly to the economic well-being and social capital of communities.  Yet, the number of new start-up businesses has fallen by one-fifth over the last 30 years (adjusted for population change), as has the overall number and market share of small local firms.  Inadequate access to loans and financing is one of the factors driving this trend.

Sources of Small Business Financing

Unlike large corporations, which have access to the equity and bond markets for financing, small businesses depend primarily on credit.  About three-quarters of small business credit comes from traditional financial institutions (banks and credit unions).  The rest comes primarily from finance companies and vendors.

At the beginning of 2014, banks and credit unions had about $630 billion in small business loans — commonly defined as business loans under $1 million — on their books, according to FDIC.  “Micro” business loans — those under $100,000 — account for a little less than one-quarter of this, or about $150 billion. (One caveat about this data: Because of the way the FDIC publishes its data, this figure includes not only installment loans, but credit provided through small business credit cards.)

Banks provide the lion’s share of small business credit, about 93 percent. But there is significant variation in small business lending based on bank size.  Small and mid-sized banks hold only 21 percent of bank assets, but account for 54 percent of all the credit provided to small businesses.  As bank size increases, their support of small businesses declines, with the biggest banks devoting very little of their assets to small business loans.  The top 4 banks (Bank of America, Wells, Citi, and Chase) control 43 percent of all banking assets, but provide only 16 percent of small business loans. (See this graph.)

Credit unions account for only a small share of small business lending, but they have expanded their role significantly over the last decade.  Credit unions had $44 billion in small business loans on their books in 2013, accounting for 7 percent of the total small business loan volume by financial institutions.  That’s up from $13.5 billion in 2004.  Although small business lending at credit unions is growing, only a minority of credit unions participate in this market.   About two-thirds of credit unions do not make any small business loans.

Crowd-funding has garnered a lot of attention in recent years as a potential solution to the small business credit crunch.  However, it’s worth noting that crowd-funding remains a very modest sliver of small business financing.  While crowd-funding will undoubtedly grow in the coming years, at present, it equals only about one-fifth of 1 percent of the small business loans made by traditional financial institutions.  Crowd-funding and other alternative financing vehicles may be valuable innovations, but they do not obviate the need to address the structural problems in our banking system that are impeding local business development.

Shrinking Credit Availability for Small Businesses

Since 2000, the overall volume of business lending per capita at banks has grown by 26 percent (adjusted for inflation).  But this expansion has entirely benefited large businesses.  Small business loan volume at banks is down 14 percent and micro business loan volume is down 33 percent.  While credit flows to larger businesses have returned to their pre-recession highs, small business lending continues to decline and is well below its pre-recession level.  Growth in lending by credit unions has only partially closed this gap.

There are multiple factors behind this decline in small business lending, some set in motion by the financial crisis and some that reflect deeper structural problems in the financial system.

Following the financial collapse, demand for small business loans, not surprisingly, declined. At the same time, lending standards tightened dramatically, so those businesses that did see an opportunity to grow during the recession had a harder time gaining approval for a loan.  According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Survey of Credit Underwriting Practices, banks tightened business lending standards in 2008, 2009, and 2010.  In 2011 and 2012, lending standards for big businesses were loosened, but lending standards for small businesses continued to tighten, despite the beginnings of the recovery.  These tightened standards were driven in part by increased scrutiny by regulators.  In the aftermath of the financial crisis, regulators began looking at small business loans more critically and demanding that banks raise the bar.  Many small businesses also became less credit-worthy as their cash flows declined and their real estate collateral lost value.

All of these recession-related factors, however, do not address the longer-running decline in small business lending.  Fifteen years ago, small business lending accounted for half of bank lending to businesses.  Today, that figure is down to 29 percent. The main culprit is bank consolidation.  Small business lending is the bread-and-butter of local community banks.  As community banks disappear — their numbers have shrunk by nearly one-third over the last 15 years and their share of bank assets has been cut in half — there are fewer lenders who focus on small business lending and fewer resources devoted to it.

It’s not simply that big banks have more lucrative ways to deploy their assets.  Part of the problem is that their scale inhibits their ability to succeed in the small business market. While other types of loans, such as mortgages and car loans, are highly automated, relying on credit scores and computer models, successfully making small business loans depends on having access to “soft” information about the borrower and the local market.  While small banks, with their deep community roots, have this in spades, big banks are generally flying blind when it comes to making a nuanced assessment of the risk that a particular local business in a particular local market will fail. As a result, compared to local community banks, big banks have a higher default rate on the small business loans they do make and a lower return on their portfolios, and they devote far less of their resources to this market.

More than thirty years of federal and state banking policy has fostered mergers and consolidation in the industry on the grounds that bigger banks are more efficient, more effective, and, ultimately, better for the economy.  But banking consolidation has in fact constricted the flow of credit to the very businesses that nourish the economy and create new jobs.

SBA Loan Guarantees

One small but important part of the small business credit market are loans guaranteed by U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  The goal of federal SBA loan guarantees is to enable banks and other qualified lenders to make loans to small businesses that fall just shy of meeting conventional lending criteria, thus expanding the number of small businesses that are able to obtain financing.  These guarantees cost taxpayers very little as the program costs, including defaults, are covered by fees charged to borrowers.

The SBA’s flagship loan programs is the 7(a) program, which guarantees up to 85 percent of loans under $150,000 and up to 75 percent of loans greater than $150,000 made to new and expanding small businesses.  The SBA’s maximum standard loan under the 7(a) program is $5 million, raised from $2 million in 2010.  The SBA’s other major loan program is 504 program, which provides loans for commercial real estate development for small businesses.  Under these two programs, the SBA approved loans valued at $23 billion in 2013, amounting to 3.7 percent of small business lending.  (The 7(a) program accounts for almost 80 percent of this.)

Although the SBA’s loan guarantees account for a small share of overall lending, they play a disproportionate role in credit access for some types of small businesses.  According to a 2008 analysis by the Urban Institute, compared to conventional small business loans, a significantly larger share of SBA-guaranteed loans go to startups, very small businesses, women-owned businesses, and minority-owned businesses.

SBA loans also provide significantly longer terms, which improve cash flow and thus can make the difference between success and failure.  More than 80 percent of 7(a) loans have maturities greater than 5 years, and 10 percent have maturities greater than 20 years.  This compares to conventional small business loans, almost half of which have maturities of less than a year and fewer than one in five have terms of five years or more.

Although federal guarantees are particularly important for very small businesses, which are having an especially tough time in the conventional loan market, the SBA has dramatically reduced its support for very small businesses over the last few years and shifted more of its loan guarantees to larger small businesses.  (The SBA’s definition of a “small” business varies by sector, but can be quite large.  Retailers in certain categories, for example, can have up to $21 million in annual sales and still be counted as small businesses.) The number of 7(a) loans under $150,000 has declined precipitously.  In the mid 2000s, the SBA guaranteed about 80,000 of these loans each year, and their total value accounted for about 25 percent of the loans made under the program.  By 2013, that had dropped to 24,000 loans comprising

just 8 percent of total 7(a) loan volume.  Meanwhile, the average loan size in the program doubled, from $180,000 in 2005 to $362,000 in 2013.

What has caused this dramatic shift is not entirely clear.  Although the SBA claims it has tried to structure its programs to benefit the smallest borrowers, critics point to policy changes in 2010 that raised the 7(a) loan cap from $2 million to $5 million. The move, which large banks advocated, has helped drive the average loan size up and the number of loans down.

Policy Solutions

1.  Increase the Number & Market Share of Community Banks

Policymakers should enact policies to strengthen and expand community banks, which provide the bulk of small business loans but are shrinking in both number and market share.  At the federal level, we encourage regulators to address the disproportionate toll that regulations adopted in the wake of the financial crisis are taking on small banks, adopt measures to reduce concentration in the banking system, and increase new bank charter approvals, which have plummeted in recent years.  At the state level, policymakers should consider the advantages of creating a publicly owned partnership bank, modeled on the Bank of North Dakota, which has boosted the numbers and market share of small private banks in the state, and, in turn, led to significantly higher levels of small business lending than in the rest of the country.

2. Allow Credit Unions to Make More Small Business Loans

Current regulations limit business loans to no more than 12.5 percent of a credit union’s assets.  Although some have called for lifting this cap, AIB favors another proposal, which would exempt loans to businesses with fewer than 20 employees from the cap.  This would ensure that new credit union lending benefits truly small businesses, rather than simply expanding large business lending by a few large national credit unions (the only ones close to hitting the current cap).

3. Reform SBA Loan Guarantee Programs

The SBA should return to the previous size cap of $2 million on 7(a) loans and adopt other reforms to ensure that federal loan guarantees provide more support to very small businesses.  The SBA should also shift a share of its loan guarantees into programs that are designed primarily or exclusively for small community banks, which specialize in small business lending.


New Obamacare Exchange Rules



New Obamacare Rule Bans Employers From “Dumping” Workers on the Exchange

Employers who planned on dealing with Obamacare by giving employees a tax-free stipend to buy health insurance on public exchanges could face big fines.

Some employers thought they’d found a smart way to deal with Obamacare: Give employees a tax-free stipend to buy health insurance on the public exchange.

The Internal Revenue Service, however, just put the kibosh on that plan.

A new IRS rule bans employers from “dumping” their employees on the health insurance exchanges through a common arrangement called employer payment plans, according to The New York Times. The Obama administration clearly saw the writing on the wall: More companies have considered dropping their employer-sponsored health coverage due to Obamacare and requiring employees to buy coverage on their own—and it wanted to nip that practice in the bud.

To be clear: The new rule doesn’t prohibit employers from giving their employees stipends to pay for health insurance. It just prohibits them from using after-tax dollars to pay for it. ( offers a helpful Q&A about the new federal rule.)

Employers who break the new rule may face hefty tax penalties of $100 a day—or $36,500 a year—for each employee who loses health insurance and is sent to the exchange, according to an IRS Q&A.

Some recent reports have predicted that many employers subject to the Obamacare employer mandate would drop their health insurance and send employees to the exchange. This rule makes that option far less attractive.

Some employers have used the tax-free lump-sum model of providing employees health insurance for many years, so the new IRS rule also effectively means those plans are not compliant with Obamacare and those employers will either need to buy workers health insurance or pay a fine.

“For decades, employers have been assisting employees by reimbursing them for health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs,” Andrew Biebl, a tax partner at Minneapolis- based tax firm CliftonLarsonAllen told the Times. “The new federal ruling eliminates many of those arrangements by imposing an unusually punitive penalty.”

The new ruling also suggests that Obama isn’t so keen on moving away from an employer-based health insurance system after all. Some health policies experts have speculated that the delay of Obamacare’s employer mandate suggested the president hoped to steer the United States away from employer-sponsored coverage and toward one where individuals are responsible for buying their own health insurance—a move some health policy experts support.

But this rule clearly aims to ensure businesses continue to buy their workers health insurance and stops employers from seeking more-affordable alternatives for dealing with Obamacare.

Source of New Obamacare Exchange Rules: OpenForum

Minority Contractors Exceed Federal Goals


New FedEx report finds that minority contractors exceed federal goals:

In fiscal 2012, small disadvantaged businesses exceeded the government’s spending goal of 5 percent, hitting 8 percent, or $32.3 billion, in contract spending.

Looking at the time and money that minority business owners invested in contracts, as well as breaking down their contract performance activity over the past few years, American Express OPEN was able to distinguish minority small businesses from other small businesses, and even certain designations among minority small businesses.

The survey of 684 small business owners in February and March 2013 focuses on trends in federal contracting among minority-owned small businesses, and provides a view of how small businesses stack up against one another.

Key findings include:

Minority business owners invest more time and money in finding contracts than all active small business government contractors. In 2012, for example, minority business owners invested $143,356, which is 11 percent higher than the $128,628 that all small firms invested. This figure is also 32 percent higher than the investment that minority contractors made in 2009.

However, the investment gap between minority and non-minority firms has declined over the past three years because non-minority-owned firms have seen a 55 percent increase in their procurement investment. Bidding activity has declined for minority and non-minority owned contractors alike, the report found.

Minority contractors are increasing their contract performance activity, reporting a higher level of contract activity compared to five years ago: Thirty-nine percent of minority contractors have increased their activity compared to the 29 percent of non-minority contractors. This is mainly among Asian American and Hispanic contractors, with a 52 percent majority of each reporting that they are busier now than in 2008.

Minority contractors are also performing on 3.2 contracts at the present time, which beats the 2.2 contracts that non-minority contractors are performing on, according to the American Express report.

Minority small business contractors, especially African American and Latino contractors, are more likely to leverage the designations and certifications available to them, with 86 percent of active minority small business contractors having at least one of ten tested government certifications, compared to the 68 percent that non-minority contractors have.

The top three certifications are the GSA schedule (27 percent), self-certifying as a woman-owned small business (24 percent), and self-certifying as a minority-owned small business (21 percent), according to the report.

Minority business owners have also claimed that being in a HUBZone, being a veteran-owned small business, and being a woman-owned small business has been useful to them.

Stress Relief for Busy Professionals


gym fitnessThere is no question about it, we live in a stressful business world. Sources of stress are plentiful and varied. Paradoxically, the sources of stress can be both happy and sad events. In spite of that, stress generators are inevitable.


Work can produce the never-ending pressure of chronic stress. When this happens the body constantly releases the stress hormones of adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. If this is not controlled, chronic stress can eventually kill us. However, there are tactics and techniques to deal with the unrelenting combination of stressors, work, relationships, financial pressures and domestic situations.


One of the most important factors in tolerating stress is optimism. The belief that things will improve in the future. The second most important factor is the ability to choose behavior for coping with stress in such a way that you can control or influence the stressful situation by keeping calm and maintaining control.


Optimism and stress tolerance are very closely linked. If you are strong in one area then you will develop mastery in the other. It is imperative that you maintain a positive and optimistic outlook on life and have the confidence that you will successfully cope with life’s challenges.


Stress tolerance has an important influence on your ability to sustain the quality of your life. If you cannot tolerate stress, then you cannot enjoy a high quality of life. Constant stress leads to physical and psychological damage and severely limits your effectiveness in the workplace. Stress reduces creativity and productivity as well as limiting decision-making options. From a managerial or executive point of view, stress is the number one enemy of business effectiveness.


What most managers and executives don’t realize is that there is a strong relationship between stress management and impulse control. When you control your impulses, you are reducing your potential stress factors.


Learn the techniques to manage the psychological and physiological impacts of stress. Develop the methods of structured breathing and optimistic visualisation. Refuse to be drawn into the heat of stressful situations. Take time out to think and consider rather than just react. Get more exercise. Check out someone who tolerates stress well. Go and talk to them and find out how they do it.


Think “laid-back.” Develop a response mechanism to crises. Practice a “laid-back” response. When faced with a potentially tense situation, pause and then produce your “laid-back” response.


Another strategy is to move from stress producing to stress reducing activities, these may include recreation, exercise or even short but frequent vacations. Often because of time pressures, busy executives and managers often avoid stressful issues instead of trying to sort them out using constructive discussion. If you can improve your ability to resolve difficult issues, then you can deal with these matters without being unduly stressed.


Finally, the most important stress buster is humor. Use generous doses of humor during difficult situations. If it is not the appropriate publicly, then when you review the situation privately, look for the funny side. Humor produces endorphins in your bloodstream which are the perfect counter to the stress hormones. It is virtually impossible to be completely stressed out if you are laughing.

-Stress Relief for Busy Professionals