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Eastern Bank named top SBA lender in Massachusetts

Honor underscores bank’s commitment to serving businesses

BOSTON, Oct. 7, 2009 – Building on its reputation as a friend and champion of small business, Eastern Bank outpaced larger competitors to rank as the No. 1 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lender in Massachusetts, the bank announced today.

Eastern Bank made 156 SBA loans in Massachusetts totaling $7.3 million, according to the SBA’s Boston District Office.  The rankings are issued annually in October, based on the number of loans originated by banks in the SBA fiscal year, which runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

Although Eastern Bank is only the state’s fifth largest bank based on deposits, the bank’s desire and commitment to serve small businesses led it to the top spot in this year’s ranking.

“Eastern Bank is focused on helping businesses and consumers succeed – that’s our role in the market and it should be the role of every bank,” said Richard E. Holbrook, chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank. “Our focus is especially true when it comes to helping small businesses, which are vital to the local economy.”

Small business accounts for 99.7 percent of all employers in the United States and employs roughly half of the nation’s private sector workforce.  Small firms pay 44 percent of the total U.S. private payroll, have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years, and hire 40 percent of high tech workers, according to the SBA.

Throughout this decade, Eastern Bank has expanded its services for businesses of all sizes, particularly small businesses.  Since 2006, for example, Eastern Bank has more than doubled its number of business bankers who serve the small business market.

Over the past several years, Eastern Bank has ranked among the top five lenders – usually the top three lenders – to businesses with less than $1 million in annual sales in the Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to reports compiled by the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council.  The rankings include both SBA and non-SBA loans.

SBA loans are intended to help businesses that may not qualify for conventional loans get the funds they need to start, grow and expand.  In 2001, Eastern Bank’s experience with processing and servicing SBA-guaranteed loans earned it the designation as a preferred lender, allowing it to speed up the loan approval process significantly.

Starting in 2008, Eastern Bank placed a greater emphasis on providing SBA loans, including the addition of an SBA specialist to its team of business banking professionals.  That effort was rewarded with today’s tribute from the SBA.

“The honor of being recognized the top SBA lender in Massachusetts really underscores our commitment to serving businesses,” Holbrook said.  “Our team of banking, investment and insurance professionals truly works hardest to meet the diverse needs of businesses.  We believe that’s what sets us apart from the competition.”

The following is a breakdown of Eastern Bank SBA loans by region:
 

Location

Loans

Volume

Cape Cod

10

$100,000

Greater Boston

31

$1,159,000

Merrimack Valley

13

$465,500

MetroWest

5

$277,000

North Shore

69

$3,688,000

South Shore

28

$1,594,700

Total

156

$7,284,200

 
About Eastern Bank

Founded in 1818 and based in Boston, Eastern Bank is the largest independent and mutually owned bank in New England, with almost $7.0 billion in assets and more than 80 branches serving communities from the Merrimack Valley to Cape Cod.  Eastern Bank offers banking, investments and insurance all under one roof, and prides itself on working harder to understand its customers’ needs so it can deliver these services in a committed and personal way.  Eastern Bank includes Eastern Wealth Management, Eastern Insurance and Fantini & Gorga, a real estate advisory firm.

For more information, contact: Andrew Ravens, Public Relations, Eastern Bank, 781-598-8528, or e-mail Andrew Ravens.