Emclaire Financial in Emlenton, Pa., has exited the Small Business Lending Fund.

The $597 million-asset bank paid about $5 million to redeem 5,000 shares of preferred stock, a spokesperson for the bank said. Emclaire issued its original 10,000 shares to the U.S. Treasury Department in August 2011 and redeemed half of those shares in 2013.

A large number of small banks have exited the SBLF program in recent months, as low interest rates provide an affordable way for banks to redeem their shares.

Banks also have an incentive to exit the SBLF program soon, as the dividend rate is scheduled to rise to 9% on Jan. 1, up from its current 2% rate.

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