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Community First Bank of Kokomo and STAR Financial Bank win top awards from Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corp.
Community First Bank of Indiana, based in Kokomo, has been been named the 2014 Indiana Small Business Lender of the Year by the Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corporation.

Community First Bank won the award for generating the largest volume -- as a percentage of its bank deposits -- of U.S. Small Business Association 504 small business expansion loans with the Indiana Statewide CDC. Community First's two loans totaled $1.9 million for Bel Air Events, a catering and event facility in Kokomo, and Mary Max Cinemas in Logansport.

STAR Financial Bank was recognized for working with the Indiana Statewide CDC on the most loans in 2014, with six loans to business owners.

An individual award went to Mark Franklin of German American Bank in Bloomington for generating two SBA 504 loans with the Indiana Statewide CDC.

Nineteen Indiana banks competed for the 2014 Lender of the Year Award, with Noblesville's Community Bank coming in as runner-up.

Indiana Statewide CDC works with local lenders to provide SBA 504 loans to owners of small businesses in every part of Indiana. SBA 504 loans can give small business owners long-term, fixed rate financing similar to commercial loan terms available for large companies. In fiscal 2014, Indiana Statewide CDC and its local bank partners funded $23.9 million in loans to 41 small companies, creating or saving an estimated 350 jobs.

The Indiana Statewide CDC has invested over $484 million in 1,091 Indiana companies since 1983, creating or saving 27,000 jobs. Now 31 years old, the Indiana Statewide CDC is Indiana's most experienced and prolific CDC.

Indiana Statewide CDC Executive Director Jean Wojtowicz says, "Many borrowers tell us that the SBA 504 loans are a wonderful boost for their companies. Borrowing companies can put as little as 10 percent down and receive a low, fixed interest rate for as long as 20 years. The SBA guarantees bonds sold privately to finance a portion of the loan. With the guarantee, we can offer loan rates more favorable than conventional financing."

Since Congress created the 504 program, SBA 504 loans have funded over $62 billion to more than 130,000 small businesses. In turn, those small firms have created or retained over 2.1 million jobs for the U.S. economy.

Community First Bank of Indiana received its Small Business Lender of the Year Award at the Indiana Statewide CDC annual meeting December 10 in Indianapolis. President Robb Blume accepted on behalf of the bank and recognized vice presidents Bob Hickman and Kelly Ayers as the loan officers who generated the loans.

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