COLUMBUS — The Midwest economy has largely been spared from the government shutdown — at least so far, said Huntington Bancshares’ top executive.
But if the partial shutdown — now more than a month old — drags on it soon could become another story.
“They need to bring it to closure. We need to get the country back to work,” Steve Steinour, Huntington’s chairman, president and CEO, said Thursday when the bank reported record profit for 2018.
The bank, by far, is the biggest Small Business Administration lender in the Midwest and ranks among the top banks in the nation for SBA lending. Those loans are on hold while the government is shut down.
Companies need that money to grow and expand, Steinour said. Delaying the loans will force those businesses to adjust their plans, he said.
“It starts to have a real impact. Unfortunately, it impacts small businesses. They don’t have a lot of options,” he said.
Huntington said profit jumped 17 percent in 2018, helped by continued strong loan demand from businesses and consumers.
The bank said it earned $1.4 billion last year, the fourth straight year of record profit. Earnings per share of $1.20 last year were up 20 percent from 2017.
Revenue rose 4 percent in 2018 to $4.5 billion, and 4 percent for the fourth quarter to nearly $1.2 billion. The bank is forecasting a 4 to 7 percent increase in revenue for 2019.