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November 26, 2018
From the Editor

As banks scramble for market share, businesses scramble for loans

I was assigned the banking beat way back in the Savings & Loan crisis of the early 1990s and several years later worked for American Banker at a time when leveraged buyouts and dot-com deals were making headlines. Which is another way of saying I have a soft spot for banking news.

This issue, with a focus of Banking and Finance, may not have the inherent drama of the 1990s, the highs and the lows, but the more highly regulated banking industry is as competitive as ever.

As Senior Writer Renee Cordes reports, banks continue to pour into the Portland market. The word from most bankers we talk to is the retail market is saturated, but there's still business to be won on the commercial side. Renee reports on the banks that are moving into this market, hoping to capture middle-market real estate loans and other business. The expansion is coming from within Maine, most recently from Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, and from outside Maine, in the case of JPMorgan Chase. Each has opened a Portland office.

"It's a fist-fight out there," Richard J. MacDonald, managing director for middle-market banking at JPMorgan, tells Renee. "We'll be in the fray as long as we need to be."

The commercial lending story starts on Page 23.

On another lending front, Senior Writer Laurie Schreiber writes that so-called Community Development Financial Institutions are filling a critical gap by offering financing to small businesses that might not qualify for traditional bank loans. Maine has 11 such institutions, ranging from Coastal Enterprises Inc., which has made a name for itself with a range of services, to the Northern Maine Development Commission in Caribou. The financial institutions are often the foundation of local economic development.

"The biggest benefit we see is when it comes to economic development," Glen Holmes, president of Community Concepts Finance Corp., tells Laurie. "If I make a loan to a business, that's the lifeblood of that community. We have communities where there are five businesses and three or four are clients of ours. There wouldn't be a grocery store or a gas station if it weren't for the work we've done."

The CDFI story starts on Page 20.

Elsewhere in the focus, we have the latest bank-market share data on Page 19. The list of Maine's largest accounting firms is on Page 30.

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