WASHINGTON -- President Clinton signed legislation Friday aimed at spurting lending in lowincome communities, predicting that the new law would "unleash the energies of millions of Americans."
"I have dreamed of this day for a long time now;' the president said, as several hundred lawmakers, congressional aides, bank industry representatives, and community activists watched.
The president said the prospect of winning community development bank legislation was "one of the things that drove me in the campaign of 19927'
For bankers, the law has even greater Significance. Included in the omnibus bill are provisions that ease regulatory burden, create a secondary market for smallbusiness loans, and permit lenders to force-place flood insurance.
Even more important, industry sources say, the bill includes almost none of the "negatives" that have characterized recent bank bills.
Although most of the $382 million provided in the bill is directed to institutions like Chicago's South Shore Bank, which focus on community development lending, a third of the money is targeted to traditional commercial banks.
BankAmerica Corp. and NationsBank both said Friday that they would take advantage of the bill to begin new lending programs.
"We support the efforts Of this bill to expand the availability of capital for community reinvestment," said David A. Mullane, executive vice president at BankAmerica.