First Independence Bank, based in Detroit, on Tuesday expanded to Minneapolis, Minnesota, making it the first Black-owned bank in the state. This is the first time the bank has moved outside of Detroit, Michigan, in its more than 50 years in business. It has vowed to address Minnesota’s income and wealth disparities, Minneapolis Public Radio reported.
Minnesota has a history of discriminatory loan practices that have impeded the ability of Black people to build wealth, the outlet added.
“Those things are true and that’s one reason that it was important to us, to look at seeing how we can help solve those issues,” CEO of First Independence Bank, Kenneth Kelly, said.
“You know, we’re really going to be a servant to the community and what that looks like is really striving to build stewards of banking,” Damon Jenkins, a First Independence vice president and head of the new branch, was quoted by Minneapolis Public Radio.
He continued: “First pillar is financial wellness. We have to get the resources in people’s hands, so they can understand banking, but more importantly so that they can trust banking again. And then the other thing is home ownership, you know we’re really striving to get more Black people into homes, knowing that here in the state that’s our biggest opportunity, with us having the worst discrepancy for homeownership in the nation for Black people.”
The opening of First Independence Bank’s branch in Minnesota was with the support of Wells Fargo, Bremer Bank, Huntington, Bank of America, and U.S. Bank, according to Fox 9. Wells Fargo has put $50 million into banks owned and managed by people of color.
“It’s really, really important to understand that to close the racial wealth gap, it’s going to take all of us,” said Danielle Squires, head of diverse segments for corporate investment and banking at Wells Fargo. “It’s not a one-bank solution, it’s not a five-bank solution, heck, it’s not a 20-bank solution. So we all need to work together to help institutions like First Independence grow and succeed and thrive. There’s enough business to go around.”
Meanwhile, First Independence is mulling launching another branch at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue in south Minneapolis in June.