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Exclusive Interview with M&T Bank's Jim Peterson

Peterson is helping minority- and women-owned small businesses in Greater Baltimore get the capital and other resources they need to grow
Jim Peterson, Vice President, Small Business Ambassador, M&T Bank

Jim Peterson gets small businesses. He previously owned one and has mentored many small-business owners in Baltimore City.

Now, Peterson is helping minority- and women-owned small businesses in Greater Baltimore get the capital and other resources they need to grow.

Learn more about how M&T Bank’s Small Business Ambassador for its Minority & Women Owned Business Banking team can help your small business thrive.

Tell us about your new role with M&T Bank?

My new role is Small Business Ambassador. I work on the Minority & Women Owned Business team headed by Detra Miller. My mandate is to focus on engagement, education, mentorship, and advocacy for the traditionally underserved communities.
Tell us about your career experiences that prepared you for this assignment?

Prior to coming to M&T Bank, I was a small business owner. I was fortunate enough to have a successful exit in 2013. At that time, I became a SCORE Mentor and spent a couple of years helping people start and grow their small businesses. When Freddie Gray happened, the city of Baltimore asked me to work for them to be the “boots on the ground” in these communities to try and change the narrative from anger to economics. I spent five years helping folks build equity in their own communities by starting a business that relied on their neighbors for support. I needed a partner to provide some of the programing that I developed and because I had banked with M&T with my business for many years, I reached out to M&T and they were happy to help. After partnering for a couple of years, M&T offered me a position with the MWOB Team doing much of the same work on behalf of the bank.

What type of businesses are you pursuing under your watch?

I am pursuing the same types of businesses and focusing on the same growing industries as the rest of M&T’s business banking team; the exception is that they are owned by people of color and women.

What characteristics separate M&T Bank from all other commercial banks?

The fact that M&T Bank has a dedicated minority and women owned business team whose mission is to engage, educate and mentor minority and women owned businesses really separates us from other banks. Additionally, our “build the relationship first” business model is also a game-changer for the banking industry. We speak with people every day who have banked with other institutions for many years, and they tell us that they have never had anything more than a transactional conversation with anyone there.

Can you provide alternative choices if M&T Bank cannot underwrite prospect deals directly?

Yes. Having been a business owner in the area and having worked for the City of Baltimore, I have either done business with or partnered with almost every lending institution in town. Those include CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions), credit unions, hard money lenders, angel investors and venture capitalists. So, no matter where a business owner may be in their growth process or what industry they happen to be in, if M&T Bank cannot help, I will always have an alternative or two as another option.

What gets your competitive juices flowing that motivates your day?

I’ve been an athlete all of my life so I’m naturally competitive, but what really gets me excited is being able to provide access to resources to folks who, like me years ago, either didn’t know that certain resources were available, or didn’t believe for a number of reasons, that those resources could be available to them.

Contact Information:
Jim Peterson
Vice President, Small Business Ambassador
M&T Bank

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