Jerry Weisman, Executive Vice President, Community Bank of Florida - We're a $560-million bank in Homestead, a bedroom community of Miami. I'm responsible for all things to do with credit on the operations side as well as the production side.
Small business credit balances expanded broadly in the fourth quarter driving delinquency rates down. Taken with upside risk, which at the moment outweighs downside risk, credit conditions for small businesses are looking up. Balances are growing in the Southeast and West, and delinquency rates are low throughout the country. The theme for 2017 will be robust balance growth and falling delinquencies. Combined with the prospect of tax reform, small businesses look set to thrive in the near future.
Small-business credit declined slightly in the third quarter, led by the mining and transportation/utility industries. Businesses have access to plenty of credit, and utilization rates remain low. The low delinquency/bankruptcy environment combined with low utilization rates leads to an overall positive outlook over the next several quarters. However, this optimism could change rapidly if interest rates rise or slow economic growth persists. Agriculture and construction credit remain bright points in the small-business credit outlook. Despite some downside risks, the sectors remain stable and well-positioned for growth.