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Huntington Bank launches $5 billion lending initiative in Michigan

Lansing — Huntington Bancshares said Wednesday it would launch a $5 billion, five-year lending program that includes philanthropy and other spending aimed to help Michigan businesses and communities, specifically female-, veteran- and minority-owned businesses.

The program will provide access to capital for businesses, money for borrowers seeking to own homes, and community efforts to provide affordable housing, workforce development or food security, according to Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington, which has more than 280 bank branches in Michigan.

Huntington Bank in Utica.

The initiative in Michigan is part of a broader $20 billion plan the bank announced Tuesday. Details of its Michigan initiatives will be announcedover the next several months starting this month.

“When the pandemic started and we saw the economic and social impacts of the pandemic and then the social unrest, we very quickly decided that we should listen to what the needs are right now,” said Sandy Pierce, senior executive vice president and chair of Michigan for Huntington. “Because this is something none of us have ever been through.”

The bank spoke with hundreds of colleagues, community groups, partners and customers across the seven states where Huntington has bank branches, Pierce said. 

"We just did extensive listening," she said. "That informed us, and we knew we had to do more now. And do as much as we possibly could now.”

What resulted was Huntington Bank’s 2020 community plan focused on providing access to capital, affordable housing and homeownership, and community lending and investment.

Huntington Bank processed 35,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan applications worth more than $6 billion, Pierce said. The bank's officials found the federally financed loans helped, but weren’t enough to keep businesses afloat, she said.

Shelter in place or stay home orders hit Huntington's small business customers hard, Pierce said.

“We found very quickly that they were going to struggle because they were closed, their employees were furloughed and they were worried that they would ever reopen,” she said.

Consumers are also in need, Pierce said. 

"Many aren’t back to work and they're struggling financially to take care of their families," she said. "They want to be able to make their mortgage payments and their car payments or their rent payments. And so we have to help them.

"They want own their own home, and they want food security for their families. The homeownership and affordable housing (initiatives) will assist people from financial education to actual investment to help them get into their homes."

Pierce said the bank will work with community partners to find out about the unique needs in every community it serves. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Huntington's announcement an "exciting investment."

"They need help now more than ever," Whitmer said of small businesses in Michigan.

Huntington plans to expand lending programs and educational services to support increased homeownership by minority and low- to moderate-income borrowers throughout the Midwest, according to the bank's plan. Huntington will also invest in community efforts related to affordable housing, food security, workforce development and social equity.

"This is an opportunity to take a more deliberate approach toward investing in the people and businesses that will have the greatest impact in our communities,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said. “I’m excited to see how we can build upon this partnership with Huntington Bank to advance equity in economic growth to ensure that new doors are open to a more diverse group of entrepreneurs at every stage of their business.” 

cmauger@detroitnews.com