Jefferson City, MO (STL.News) Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick today announced changes to Missouri FIRST, the state’s linked deposit program, that will increase the maximum size of linked deposits for participants. At today’s Linked Deposit Committee Meeting, the maximum size of linked deposits was increased from $1 million to a maximum of $2 million per loan request.
“When I took office, the linked deposit program, which supports Missouri small businesses and farms, was on an unsustainable path. Today, because of reforms I enacted less than two months into my tenure as Treasurer, the program is healthy,” Treasurer Fitzpatrick said. “Additionally, because of our work with the General Assembly, legislation was passed to increase the statutory cap on the program size, which will allow us to invest more of Missouri’s portfolio in growing local businesses and supporting our agricultural producers. As a business owner myself, I know how important it is to have access to affordable capital in order to start and grow a company—and I am proud that Missouri FIRST is now back in a position to help provide small businesses and farmers with low cost funding.”
In February 2019, the Treasurer announced reforms that were intended to control the rapid growth of the program that occurred in 2018 and brought the program close to reaching the statutory cap. These actions increased the long-term viability of the program and ensured that Missouri’s small business and agriculture communities can continue to access and benefit from these low-interest loans. This year, Treasurer Fitzpatrick worked with the General Assembly and Missouri’s financial institutions to pass legislation that raises the statutory cap from $720 million to $800 million.
Currently, Missouri has $440 million in linked deposits placed.
“The Missouri Bankers Association supports the linked deposit program and we appreciate the Treasurer’s careful stewardship of the program,” Max Cook, MBA President, said. “We are glad to see this worthwhile program remain viable.”
A linked deposit allows the Treasurer’s Office to place state funds with participating lenders to offset the funds they loan to Missouri farms and small businesses. These funds are deposited at reduced rates and in return, the institution passes this reduced rate on to the borrower by lowering the interest rate on the loan. The program allows the borrower to save, on average, 30% on interest. All deposits must be 100% collateralized and each institution must have a signed depository contract with the State Treasurer’s Office. The program has clear statutory guidelines, outlined in Sections 30.750 through 30.860, RSMo.