Wisconsin Banking News

Ridgestone Bank provides $21 million in USDA lending; Associated Bank ordered to maintain elevated capital levels to offset losses; Chase to hire 1,200 loan officers

Ridgestone Bank provides $21 million in USDA lending

Brookfield-based Ridgestone Bank, the second leading USDA lender in the country, recently made nearly $21 million in USDA-backed loans to businesses in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The loans were made to Racine-based Johnson Outdoors and Albany, Minn.-based Avon Plastics, and were made to finance growth and retain jobs, the bank said.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided the USDA with nearly $28 billion in funding, which is expected to generate about $52 billion through several loan guarantee programs.

"Our focus on government-guaranteed lending has helped us to work with the USDA to support our business customers, says Eric Manke, senior vice president and commercial team manager in Brookfield. "The ARRA funds made available through the USDA provide a much-needed resource for businesses with locations in rural areas."

Associated Bank ordered to maintain elevated capital levels to offset losses

According to a Nov. 5 filing with the SEC, Associated Bank has been ordered by the federal Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to develop, implement and maintain processes to improve the risk management of its loan portfolio.

Beginning March 31, 2010, the bank will maintain minimum capital ratios of 8 percent of Tier 1 capital to total average assets and 12 percent of total capital to risk-weighted assets. As of Sept. 30, Associated’s capital ratios were 8.33 percent and 13.11 percent.

“As a result of the MOU (memorandum of understanding), the bank’s lending activities and capital levels are now subject to increased regulatory oversight,” the SEC filing states. “The terms of the MOU may affect our liquidity.”

Chase to hire 1,200 loan officers

Chase, one of the nation’s leading home lenders, plans to hire 1,200 mortgage loan officers by the end of 2010, increasing its sales force 60 percent to help more customers finance home purchases or reduce their monthly payments through refinances.

"We have made a number of strategic investments in our organization," said Dave Lowman, head of home lending at Chase. "We have invested in new systems, aggressively grown our capacity and now are looking to increase our sales force. With our vast branch network and growing customer base, the opportunity for Chase loan officers is tremendous."

A company spokesperson said the bank will only hire a handful of new mortgage lenders in Wisconsin. Most of the new hires will be in states that had a significant number of branches for Washington Mutual Inc., which was acquired by Chase in September, 2008.

New loan officers will serve customers through bank branches in 23 states – including key states such as California, Florida and Texas and key metro areas such as New York and Chicago, as well as metro markets outside the bank’s branch footprint, such as Boston, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.


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