Area SBLF banks taking two paths

Avenue, Franklin Synergy put up big Q4 small-biz loan growth; others tread water

Avenue Bank and Franklin Synergy Bank late last year added more than $32 million in small-business loans to their books under the auspices of a U.S. Treasury program that provides them with potentially cheap capital.

Seven-year-old Avenue grew its small-biz loan portfolio by $22 million to $153 million during the fourth quarter, while Franklin Synergy booked $10 million in growth to get to $67.4 million. But the other two Nashville-area banks taking part in the Small Business Lending Fund, InsBank and Sumner Bank & Trust, shrank their combined small-biz loan books by $1.4 million to about $70 million, continuing a trend that had them finish 2013 about $10 million below where they started the year.

As a group, the four local banks that accepted more than $36 million in Treasury investments grew their lending to small firms — defined by the Treasury as having revenues of less than $50 million — by about $50 million in 2013 and by $124 million since September 2011. Avenue, Franklin Synergy and InsBank all qualify to pay the Treasury an interest rate of just 1 percent on its investment, while Sumner Bank & Trust must pay 7 percent.

Despite its SBLF drop, InsBank is growing on the whole: It finished last year with $173 million in net loans, up from $148 million at the end of 2012, and posted a profit of $1.7 million. Sumner Bank & Trust, however, wrapped up 2013 with just $92 million in net loans, down from $120 million the year before, as it sought to recover from an abandoned plan to sell to a Kentucky holding company.

The Treasury's year-end SBLF report is available here.