Posted on July 14, 2004

New Bank Aims To Tap Hispanic Business Market

AP, Tucson Citizen, Jul. 7

PHOENIX — Articles of incorporation were filed for what would be one of the first banks in Arizona to specifically target the Hispanic small-business market.

The Sonoran Bank hopes to open in Phoenix next spring.

It would focus on lending amounts of $50,000 to $300,000 or perhaps a half-million dollars, a need not being met by large banks, said Ernest Garfield, owner of Interstate Bank Developers and who is guiding the board in creating the new lending.

Although the bank wouldn’t turn away consumer accounts, it would not actively pursue them.

Applications for approval are expected to be filed with the state Banking Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. this fall, after which investors can buy stock, Garfield said.

Garfield said the bank’s assets would come from investors. Plans are to have $135 million to $150 million in assets within four or five years.

Democratic state Rep. John Loredo of Phoenix said there’s a need to invest in the booming Hispanic-owned businesses in the Phoenix area.

“And when these small businesses gain the ability to invest in their business, they do very well,” Loredo said.

Business owner Carlos Yado said he applied for loans with major banks when he was trying to start his business.

“We were trying to get loans from $20,000 to $40,000, but they want that amount in collateral,” he said. “If I had that, why would I need a loan?”

Yado said he looks forward to a bank geared toward Hispanics who are small-business owners.

“If there is a bank out there that wants to help out minorities, I’d be the first to check it out,” he said.

Rachel Gomez said she and her husband struggled to get funding needed to start their Mexican restaurant in El Mirage.

“We really need a bank that will really help Hispanics get started,” she said. “I know so many people who would love to be in business if they could just get a small loan.”