Small Business Lending

Small businesses create jobs, help families build wealth, and support economic development. Woodstock Institute works to ensure that all small business owners have equal opportunity to access sustainable credit.

August 19, 2014

Lack of access to credit could limit economic opportunity in disinvested communities

CHICAGO—There are significant disparities with respect to both race and neighborhood income in access to credit for businesses in the Chicago six county region, a new report from Woodstock Institute found. From 2008 to 2012, the business loan gap (that is, the difference between the total amount of loans made and proportional distribution of loans) in majority minority communities was estimated to be nearly $1.5 billion, and the gap in low-income communities exceeded an estimated $817 million.

Read the report

August 19, 2014

This report examines geographic patterns of access to bank capital for businesses in the Chicago six county region, with a focus on smaller loans and other types of credit, amounts under $1 million, that are more likely to benefit smaller, local businesses that create economic opportunity within neighborhoods. For small neighborhood businesses to grow, they need to be able to access capital, and one common source of capital for small businesses are loans, lines of credit, and business credit cards (collectively, “small loans”) issued by banks and other financial institutions.


July 25, 2014
Chicago’s housing market has been recovering steadily in recent years. The rate of foreclosure filings has gone down across the city since the housing crisis, and home prices have significantly increased compared to a year ago. But some neighborhoods aren’t recovering nearly as fast as others. WBEZ’s Susie An has the details on one reason why that may be. Spencer Cowan, Vice President of the Woodstock Institute, offers some history on why some neighborhoods are slower to rebound than others.
November 26, 2013

Washington, DC - Today, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) released a report entitled “Access to Capital and Credit in Appalachia and the Impact of the Financial Crisis and Recession on Commercial Lending and Finance in the Region.”

October 29, 2010

Richard Otero-Cintrón is the kind of person who knows how to seize an opportunity when he sees one. It’s how he became the owner of North Chicago Auto Service after starting out in 1990 as the maintenance man who swept the floors and made sure the windows were clean. Over the course of fifteen years, Otero-Cintrón earned the trust of the shop’s previous owner through his dedication and loyalty. When the previous owner passed away of pancreatic cancer five years ago, he left Otero-Cintrón ownership of 25 percent of the business and the rest to his widow.

June 15, 2010

As unemployment continues to remain high, we must look for ways to allow small businesses to expand and create jobs. Small businesses are engines for job creation—they create 80 percent of new jobs—but the recession has taken a toll on small business owners’ ability to access the credit they need to expand their businesses. A number of initiatives have the potential to increase small business lending to sound borrowers.

May 11, 2010

Microfinance has officially arrived, as evidenced by recent debate about its core purpose.  For example, the industry has been portrayed in a New York Times article as seeking to indebt the poor and the vulnerable for personal profit.  The recent controversy around microfinance has demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the industry among intelligent commentators.  However, the positive outcome is that it has revealed the growing role that microfinance plays in the global economy to bring financial services to underserved populations.

April 16, 2010

Woodstock Institute and over 300 local and national consumer and community organizations called for immediate Congressional action on a proposal to put Americans back to work and prevent more layoffs and cuts in crucial frontline services.  The proposal, the Local Jobs for America Act (H.R. 4812), would provide $100 billion over two years, creating or saving 750,000 jobs providing local services and 250,000 education jobs.

April 6, 2010

Woodstock Institute staff and members of the Illinois Community Investment Coalition (ICIC) left a big impression at last month’s National Community Reinvestment Coalition Annual Conference. Woodstock President Dory Rand, Senior Vice President Geoff Smith, and Vice President Tom Feltner shared Woodstock’s expertise with community investment advocates from across the country as presenters on panels with topics inlcuding strategies to influence elected officials, foreclosure prevention, and promoting sustainable lending.

March 10, 2010

Financial reform is at a critical juncture in Washington. The House has already passed a bill to create a strong and independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) to put consumers’ interests over those of Wall Street and crack down on the risky lending that spurred the financial crisis. However, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) continues to compromise the agency’s independence in the interest of bipartisan support.

March 3, 2010

So many of us—families and businesses—are struggling to pay our bills during these difficult times.

February 12, 2010

Momentum continues to build in Washington around expanding small business access to sustainable credit, despite the postponement of the hearing to consider the state of small business lending in local markets in the House Small Business and Financial Services Committees. Keeping credit flowing to small businesses is critical, especially in times of recession and high unemployment. Small businesses are engines for job creation, creating roughly 80 percent of new jobs and employing over half of private sector employees. Ensuring that small businesses are equipped to grow through productive, sustainable credit and create new jobs will be a vital component of economic recovery.

August 25, 2009

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency (H.R. 3126), the new financial watchdog proposed by the Obama administration and currently being debated in Congress, would have the authority to protect small businesses from risky, unregulated financial products. 

August 25, 2009

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency (H.R. 3126), the new financial watchdog proposed by the Obama administration and currently being debated in Congress, would have the authority to protect small businesses from risky, unregulated financial products.