April 22, 2020

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Earth Day – Reigniting the spirit of 50 years ago

Good afternoon and thank you for attending the IBank board meeting.  Today, marks the 50th anniversary of earth day – an estimated 20M people took part in the celebration in 1970, which contributed to the creation of the EPA, and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Let’s all continue to further this cause and reignite the spirit that the movement captured 50 years ago.

As we remain in the midst of a global crisis, IBank, via our provision of credit and our wholesale funding and capital markets activities, is deemed an essential service. Despite the fact that we’ve now moved to a 100% remote workforce, IBank remains fully functioning and operational, and we continue to conduct our vital services as part of the core fabric of the financial system.

The transition hasn’t been easy, but has been generally smooth to date. The IBank staff is dedicated and proficient, and they stepped into action immediately with a high degree of communication via whatever medium was available. We are executing on advancing our technology infrastructure and preparing to adjust to a rapidly evolving economic and market environment.

We’re also launching new initiatives. At the moment, the Small Business Finance Center is a focal point in helping to provide solutions to the struggling small business community of the state.  In addition to connecting small businesses to the relief available by the SBA and other state-wide entities, the Governor announced a $50M allocation to the Small Business Finance Center on April 2nd – to focus on microloans to low-income and immigrant entrepreneurs that are not qualified for federal disaster loans.

Two business days later, our program was live and accepting applications with newly approved lenders. This rapid turnaround was accomplished by our remarkable small business team working around the clock and led by Emily Burgos, with assistance from the entire staff.

Several weeks in, we’ve served approximately 50 businesses, with 500 employees. We target supporting over 2,000 small businesses by guaranteeing $100M of loans with this allocation. With any additional funding, we seek to remain innovative and fast-acting to adapt to the needs of CA’s small businesses with specially tailored products.

Likewise, we’re closely following the activities in our nation’s capitol. As new Federal Reserve liquidity funds are established and additional CARES disaster relief activities are appropriated, we monitor the daily events carefully to assure that we are poised to take any action that may be necessary within our mandate to help provide channels for such relief to the municipalities, small businesses and communities of CA.

For those that follow the muni bond markets closely, including many of today’s meeting participants, it’s been the ride of a lifetime. The historic volatility since the beginning of March is unlike anything ever before experienced. In this chaos, somehow, our very own Treasurer has demonstrated a magic touch, issuing $2B of bonds in early March on the day the muni market shut, and then essentially reopening the market for large muni issues last Thursday with another $1.5B issuance.  Congratulations and we hope to follow her lead.

We recognize that the current situation is dire. However, we also know that this crisis will pass, and that the resiliency of all Californians can help lead the rebuild of the global economy.  We at IBank intend to play our small role to help us advance towards that brighter future.

Scott Wu

S. Wu Signature