First Independence Bank, established in Detroit, announced its expansion to Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Tuesday, making it the state’s first Black-owned bank. This is the first time in the bank’s more than 50-year history that it has relocated outside of Detroit, Michigan. According to Minneapolis Public Radio, it has pledged to address income and wealth inequality in Minnesota.
Minnesota has a history of discriminatory loan policies that have hampered Black people’s ability to acquire wealth, according to the site.
“Those things are true, and that’s one of the reasons it was vital to us to look at how we can help solve those concerns,” said Kenneth Kelly, CEO of First Independence Bank.
Damon Jenkins, a First Independence vice president and head of the new branch, was reported by Minneapolis Public Radio as saying, “You know, we’re truly going to be a servant to the community, and what that looks like is really working to build stewards of banking.”
“The first pillar is financial wellness,” he continued. We need to get the resources into people’s hands so that they can understand banking and, more importantly, trust banking again. Then there’s homeownership; you know, we’re really trying to get more Black folks into homes because we realize that’s our biggest potential here in the state, with us having the worst homeownership disparity in the country for Black people.”
According to Fox 9, Wells Fargo, Bremer Bank, Huntington, Bank of America, and U.S. Bank supported the opening of First Independence Bank’s branch in Minnesota. Wells Fargo has invested $50 million in African-American-owned and operated banks.
“It’s critical to remember that closing the racial wealth gap would need all of us,” said Danielle Squires, Wells Fargo’s head of diverse sectors for corporate investing and banking. “It’s not a one-bank solution, a five-bank solution, a ten-bank solution, or even a twenty-bank solution.” As a result, we must all work together to assist First Independence to develop, succeed, and thrive. There’s plenty of work to go around.”
Meanwhile, First Independence is considering opening a second location in June at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue in south Minneapolis.