Updated: September 06, 2021 09:49 AM
Created: August 30, 2021 10:29 AM
The Twin Cities is getting a new bank that's designed to be much more than just a financial institution.
Detroit-based First Independence Bank is one of only 18 Black-owned full-service banks in the country. It'll soon open a location in Minneapolis.
Five banks in the Twin Cities are supporting it with capital, research, marketing and other services.
Black business, religious and nonprofit leaders began new discussions this spring leading to these doors expected to open this fall.
"We want to be a resource to help you from a financial education perspective," said Kenneth Kelly, chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank.
Kelly said it's a community effort.
"It is not a silver bullet to solve all of the ills. It is one component of many," Kelly said.
He noted that the collaboration is rare.
"It is extremely unique — in fact, I would probably say it is unprecedented, certainly — of anything that I have been involved in," Kelly said.
Executives at five banks in the Twin Cities — Bank of America, Bremer Bank, Huntington Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo — said they're increasing racial equity within their own organizations and the communities they serve, coming together to support the expansion of a Black-owned bank.
"Black households in the Twin Cities are five times more likely to be unbanked, so we actually need more not less, and really welcome everyone at the table," said Laurie Nordquist, Wells Fargo's central lead region president.
Wells Fargo donated its building to Project for Pride in Living, which is working with First Independence Bank on its growth to the Twin Cities.
The new bank will be along the 3400 block of University Avenue Southeast in Minneapolis. It already had drive-thru banking set up, and it's just off a light rail and bus route.
"This isn't about competition. I think what was so great about all of the banks that came together is every single one of the banks sort of checked their brands at the front door," said Greg Cunningham, the chief diversity officer at U.S. Bank.
Cunningham said the solutions are being developed and led by Black leaders in a collaboration that stakeholders call the alliance of alliances.
The plan is for First Independence Bank to boost small businesses and offer innovative home loan programs to help reduce homeownership disparities.
"We are bringing forward our solutions for the long-term, they're not short-term solutions," Cunningham said.
The branch is expected to open in early November, and this may be just the beginning.
The bank's CEO says a second location could open at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue in the future.
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