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The money is green but the lenders are Black.

Dallas Mavericks v Atlanta Hawks

Source: Todd Kirkland / Getty

The Atlanta Hawks made NBA and professional sports history today and it has absolutely nothing to do with the game. According to the NBA, the Hawks were granted a $35 million loan to renovate the Emory Sports Medicine Complex where they practice and train players. The reason this is significant is that it marks the first time that a professional sports franchise has used Black banks to underwrite a significant loan of this size. The National Black Bank Foundation arranged for a syndicate of Black financial institutions including Carver Federal Savings Bank, Citizens Savings Bank, Citizens Trust Bank, Commonwealth National Bank, Industrial Bank, Liberty Bank & Trust, M&F Bank, and Optus Bank. The operation was helmed by Carver State Bank.

This partnership has far-reaching implications as it provides a prominent portfolio piece for the aforementioned banks that will greatly increase their ability to serve the community by providing a large influx of capital into their coffers. It also serves testament to the fact that Black banks can seamlessly handle these sorts of transactions with aplomb and will hopefully pique the interest of not only other sports franchises but other large businesses who need capital injections.

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards

Source: G Fiume / Getty

It’s one thing for the NBA to go all-in on Black Lives Matter t-shirts and ceremonial gestures but moves like this is where Black institutions gain a real foothold into markets that were previously untapped.

“Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to putting our values into action–by choosing to work with Black banks and drawing attention to the need for Black banks to thrive as they work toward addressing the lack of access to capital in Black communities,” said Tony Ressler, Principal Owner of the Atlanta Hawks.  “We always strive to ask ourselves how the Hawks can best help those in the community that are already helping others, and today’s announcement is another step in our commitment to use the Hawks as a positive agent of change.  This is both good for the community and good business to empower new and existing Black businesses.”

THIS is what allyship looks like when it comes to corporate entities. Access, opportunity, and trust that our brightest minds are just as worthy and capable of flourishing on every level of America society as any white organization.

“The Atlanta Hawks are putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to being an ally of Black businesses, and Carver State Bank is proud to be the lead institution on this historic transaction. By selecting an all-Black bank syndicate to provide this financing, the Hawks are strengthening all of our banks,” said Robert E. James, II, President, Carver Development & Chairman-Elect, National Bankers Association. “What we earn from this loan strengthens our collective ability to provide even more loans and financial services to Black small businesses and consumers, and we are able to show our ability to pull off a large, sophisticated loan transaction. Tony and his team are real allies in the movement for racial equity.”

Shoutout to the Hawks and everyone involved in making this happen. We hope to see more examples of this type of leadership in the future. We highly suggest you read the entire press release HERE to get a deeper understanding of what this actually means.

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