January 24, 2024

The 49ers are unstoppable

On this day in 1848, a carpenter hired by a local pioneer, John Sutter, made a discovery while building Sutter’s water-powered saw mill just 45 miles east of us in Coloma, CA.  His discovery was a flake of gold, which when confirmed, set off the California Gold Rush.  In the early 1840s, the total non-native population of the area we now know as California was under 10,000.

A week after the discovery, which was not known to the Mexican government, the peace treaty was signed to end the Mexican-American War, formally transferring this land to the United States.   

The gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill would lead to a rapid influx of over 300,000 people known as the 49ers, half who arrived by boat and from overseas. Nearby San Francisco’s population exploded from just a few hundred to over 36,000 in a couple of years. This influx ushered in California’s entry to the union just two years later in 1850.

This seminal event that occurred right here changed California and the nation, with a profoundly devastating effect on the region’s native and original population. It was truly the wild west. There was an absence of existing institutions – no courts or established laws, taxes, environmental policies or property rights.

John Sutter had hoped to keep the news of the gold discovery a secret for fear of what would become of his business and farm. As he feared, without an ability to establish claims to his goldfields, Sutter lost it all to prospectors and squatters.

2023 Recap

As we start the new year, I want to take a moment to look back on what we achieved last year.

2023 began with a banking crisis and ended with the stock market in record territory. Throughout, the Federal Reserve successfully continued its efforts to curb inflation.

The resulting impacts directly or indirectly touched all Californians. Our work to address unmet financing needs for municipalities, nonprofits, small businesses, and climate entrepreneurs was more important than ever.

During this time, IBank made strides in each of our top priorities:

  1. Creating and preserving jobs
  2. Being inclusive in how we support the underserved and disadvantaged
  3. Targeting climate solutions

In the last fiscal year alone, we achieved $1.5 billion in financing activity, creating and preserving nearly 16,000 jobs.

The regional bank failures particularly affected the venture capital and climate innovation sectors. Fortunately, IBank was launching or expanding work in these very markets.

We also served as lead applicant in coordinating the state’s climate agencies to request over $1 billion from the federal Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

We continue to listen and learn, incorporating feedback across all IBank programs to streamline and improve our business processes to better serve our customers.

In summary, 2023 was a year of major milestones for IBank:

  • $1 billion in ISRF direct municipal loans
  • $2 billion in loans supported with small business guarantees
  • $50 billion in conduit bond financing
  • First investment in VC program for underserved fund managers and entrepreneurs
  • First investment in Climate Catalyst fund
  • Completed COVID microloan guarantee program – disaster assistance to nearly 2,400 underserved businesses
  • Established new IBank records for:
    • Small business guarantee activity
    • Climate Tech activity
    • Largest balance sheet
    • Highest operating profits

Thanks to the leadership of this board and the dedication of IBank’s public servants, we’ve never been stronger or better positioned in our history for whatever challenges we may face in the future.

Speaking of the future, we hope you will join us in June when IBank celebrates our 30th anniversary.

Scott Wu

S. Wu Signature