KeyBank commits $1 billion in lending to women-owned businesses

Building on its distinct delivery of financial products and solutions for women-owned businesses, KeyBank (NYSE:KEY) will increase its allocation of resources, multiplying its investment and committing a minimum of $1 billion in lending to help qualified women business owners succeed and prosper.

Over the next three years, Key will lend at least $1 billion to qualified women-owned firms of all sizes, ranging from self-employed entrepreneurs to large corporations for working capital augmentation, business expansion, purchasing equipment, real estate and other purposes.

Businesses owned by women are a growing economic force. According to a recent study from the Center for Women’s Business Research, the number of women-owned firms has expanded by 17 percent between 1997 and 2004, to a total of 10.6 million firms. These firms employ 19.1 million people and generate $2.5 trillion in sales.

As one of the nation’s largest financial services companies and one of the top small business lenders, Key already provides financial services to nearly 80,000 women-owned businesses in 13 states. Key has newly branded its solutions and service to women-owned businesses as Key4Women, signaling its more intensified focus on this economically powerful segment.

“For more than 50 years, we’ve been lending money to women-owned businesses and watching them grow,” said Key CEO Henry Meyer. “We recognize the unique challenges that women business owners face and offer not only the lending and financing they need, but also the guidance and partnerships they should expect from a trusted adviser.”

Maria Coyne, who spearheads Key’s women-owned business program, was recently named national executive for Key4Women. Coyne, who also heads Key’s Small Business Administration (SBA) program, manages Key’s strategy to deliver its full array of financial products, services and networks to women-owned clients and prospects.

“Serving women-owned businesses isn’t new to Key – we’ve been doing it for years,” explained Coyne. “What’s new is the heightened level of resources we’re making available to our clients. We want to do whatever it takes to ensure women business owners have access to capital, financial tools and relevant networks that will help their businesses thrive.”

In addition to naming dedicated Key4Women relationship managers to serve women-owned businesses in each of its districts, Coyne reiterated Key’s planned activities to support women business owners, including:

•Networking events and opportunities to bring women-owned businesses together

•Hosting a variety of women-owned business events in local markets

•Enhancing Key’s online presence by increasing the resources available through

•Sponsoring research studies to support business growth and success for women business owners

•Increasing resources to women business owners through membership and sponsorship of eWomen Network, Women’s President Organization (WPO), the Center for Women’s Business Research and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)

•Leveraging women on Key’s board of directors and in key management positions

•Heightening awareness of Key’s goal of doing more business with women-owned vendors and suppliers

While women-owned businesses are just as financially strong and creditworthy as the average U.S. firm, research sponsored by Key through the Center for Women’s Business Research shows that women and men business owners have different management styles. “For example, women are more likely to consult with others, involving experts, employees and fellow business owners,” explains Coyne. “Through our financial support of important associations like NAWBO and WPO, we act as the conduit for these services. We simply make partnerships and networking easier.”

Key has hosted roundtable discussions centered on the research study and plans to host ongoing educational programs in 2005. Topics will include SBA loans, technology, human resources and marketing.

Cleveland-based KeyCorp is one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $91 billion. Key companies provide investment management, retail and commercial banking, consumer finance, and investment banking products and services to individuals and companies throughout the United States and, for certain businesses, internationally.