Minnesota marked a milestone on Tuesday when the state opened its first Black-owned bank in the city of Minneapolis.
On Tuesday, Minnesota’s financial community came together to open its first Black-owned bank in a huge step toward addressing the state’s income and wealth disparities, MPR News reports. The new bank is owned by Detroit-based First Independence Bank and is its first expansion outside the state of Michigan in its more than 50 years in business.
The bank now sits where a former Wells Fargo Bank branch once operated near Highway 280 and University Avenue. The expansion was met with support from other banking institutions, including Wells Fargo, Bremer Bank, Huntington, Bank of America, and U.S. Bank, Fox 9 reports.
The head of the branch shared his pride in leading the new bank as the state makes strides toward inclusion.
“I grew up on the south side; I am a product of that,” said Damon Jenkins, senior vice president and Twin Cities regional market president of First Independence Bank.
“Selfishly I wanted to be in a seat of influence to help people who look like me,” Jenkins added.
Bank CEO Kenneth Kelly noted the state’s high racial wealth gap rate and history of discriminatory loan practices that negatively impact the Black community.
“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,” Kelly said.
Jenkins is hopeful about the bank’s future and the community development it will bring about.
“We’re Black-owned, but we’re not Black-only. And so we’re hopeful that we can have relationships to not just consist of BIPOC communities or Black communities, but all communities even beyond the Twin Cities. I’m hopeful that we can establish relationships across Minnesota,” Jenkins said.
A second branch of the Black-owned bank is slated to open later this summer on Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue in South Minneapolis.