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Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
FRB Atlanta Working Paper
Commercial lending distance and historically underserved areas
Robert DeYoung
W. Scott Frame
Dennis C. Glennon
Daniel P. McMillen
Peter Nigro

We study recent changes in the geographic distances between small businesses and their bank lenders, using a large random sample of loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. Consistent with extant research, we find that small borrower-lender distances generally increased between 1984 and 2001, with a rapid acceleration in distance beginning in the late-1990s. We also document a new phenomenon: a fundamental reordering of borrower-lender distance by the borrowers' neighborhood income and race characteristics. Historically, borrower-lender distance tended to be shorter than average for historically underserved (for example, low-income and minority) areas, but by 2000 borrowers in these areas tended to be farther away from their lenders on average. This structural change is coincident in time with the adoption of credit scoring models that rely on automated lending processes and quantitative information, and we find indirect evidence consistent with this link. Our findings suggest that there has been increased entry into local markets for small business loans and this should help allay fears that movement toward automated lending processes will reduce small businesses' access to credit in already underserved markets.

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Robert DeYoung & W. Scott Frame & Dennis C. Glennon & Daniel P. McMillen & Peter Nigro, Commercial lending distance and historically underserved areas, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2007-11, 2007.
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