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Stearns Bank Acquires South End Capital to Rev Up Digital Innovation

June 14, 2021, 07:25 AM
Filed Under: Mergers & Acquisitions

Stearns Bank N.A., a financial institution in Minnesota, has acquired South End Capital Corporation and its digital lending platform to expand financing options and banking services for businesses. Noah Grayson, founder and President, South End Capital, and his team will join Stearns Bank as a specialized Stearns Bank division, accelerating each company’s digital innovation and their shared vision to deliver real estate investors and business owners the premier marketplace for banking services and customized, affordable financing through an advanced online banking platform.

The acquisition of South End Capital advances Stearns Bank’s commitment to expand financing options and banking services for small business owners through digital innovation and increased collaboration among banks and alternative financing sources. Stearns Bank’s merger and acquisition (M&A) strategy for 2021 focuses on expanding its technology partnerships and pursuing potential acquisitions of banks having assets between $250 million and $1.5 billion, specialty financing companies and performing or non-performing loan portfolios. Earlier this year, Stearns Bank partnered with Productfy, a banking as a service platform that accelerates financial product innovation with expedited go-to-market launch services for fintechs.

“We are thrilled about this new venture with South End Capital and excited about how much more we can do together to expand access to financing and banking services for businesses through an all-access online marketplace and expanded collaboration among financing sources to better serve the diverse small business community we have throughout the country,” said Kelly Skalicky, President & CEO of Stearns Bank N.A. “Stearns Bank’s sense of urgency and digital innovation, along with our high-touch customized financing and pledge to answer customer calls on the first ring, pair perfectly with the ‘urgency, listen, learn’ values of South End Capital and their innovative commercial lending platform.”

Customers can expect a wider array of direct lending products, including equipment finance, expanded options for banking services, and access to upgraded technology to streamline and simplify the loan process for even faster decisioning and funding. Strategic participation and referral partners will benefit from more program options, increased volume, more tailored loan and referral terms, and enhanced resources and support, including a new loan participation marketplace and options for loan buys without servicing.

“I couldn't be more excited that South End Capital is now part of the Stearns Bank family,” said Grayson. “The natural synergies present between our two organizations are unmatched. South End Capital's cutting-edge technology combined with Stearns Bank’s first-in-class customer service and customized loan programs, creates a new standard for the industry.”

Grayson, South End’s visionary founder, successfully launched his digital platform delivering Commercial Lending in the Cloud with an easy-access lending platform for businesses seeking customized financing. Grayson was named to the Forbes Real Estate Council in 2019, with South End Capital recognized by, US Business News, Fit Small Business, and Top Ten Reviews as one of the premier commercial lenders in the country. It proudly maintains a 4.5/5 star “Excellent” Trustpilot rating.

Through this partnership, Skalicky sees an unequaled opportunity to deliver expanded financial services to more small businesses, especially those who are unbanked or underbanked. “South End Capital as a division of Stearns Bank will deliver the most accessible, real-time marketplace digital platform serving the commercial sector, helping a more diverse, larger number of businesses access customized financing and banking solutions while assisting strategic partners build their portfolios. We share this mission and are driven to deliver for even more small businesses.”

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