What a difference a month makes. Back in October, a survey by financial services firm Banc Investment Group showed that 66 percent of the community banks responding were unlikely to participate in or strongly opposed the idea of accepting Troubled Assets Relief Program capital. Just 8 percent said they’d take the money. In a survey completed in late November, 56 percent said they would apply for the program, and 3 percent had been approved.

“Because many banks want to position themselves to withstand another Depression era-type shock and still make loans to their communities, TARP capital has become an attractive option,” according to Chris Nichols, CEO of Banc Investment Group.

Community banks plan to use a TARP infusion as follows: 29 percent would use the money to support organic growth; 28 percent would set it aside against future loan losses; 11 percent would direct it to improve capital ratios; 8 percent would deploy the money for mergers and acquisitions; and the rest were undecided.

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