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ATLANTA -- When the bottom fell out of the economy, it almost fell out from under Atlanta's Capitol City Bank & Trust.

The bank hasbeen lending money to individuals and small businesses in Atlanta's predominantly African American West End for 18 years now.

In a community where money is hard to come by, small businesses have come to rely on Capitol City to get started and stay in business.

It's where Willie Watkins turned when he wanted to start a funeral home business.

Today Watkins has four locations.

"They gave me a little bit at a time," he said. "As I did a little work they gave me money. I did a little more work and they gave me money. They wanted to see how I would manage it."

Capitol City was the only bank that stepped forward to lend Watkins money to start his business.

"Correct," Watkins said.

But when some of their loans went bad, Capitol City found itself on a Federal watch listand needed cash to stay afloat.

"If we didn't have enough capital, we could not survive," said George Andrews, President and CEO of Capitol City.

"If Capitol City had to close again, it would be a tremendous void," he added. "If you think it's bad now in terms of jobs, those small businesses that do not get capital to grow -- their businesses would have been gone and also gone would have been the jobs."

To keep the doors open, Capitol City needed more than $8 million.

Up to half of that will now come from Atlanta's SunTrust Bank, which itself got $3.5 billion in bailout money from the Federal Government in 2008.

The balance, Andrews said, will come from other banks and private investors. As a result, Capitol City will keep its lending doors open and keep the small African American businesses it supports from going under.

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