Midwest BankCentre and SLEHCRA Announce New Community Benefits Partnership!

Midwest BankCentre (MBC) to Open Second Branch in Near North County or North City within Two Years

Partnership with Community Advocate SLEHCRA to Expand Financial Services Infrastructure in Low-Moderate Income Areas Powering Advance

ST. LOUIS — Heartened by the results achieved since its November 2012 opening of the first banking facility ever located in the city of Pagedale, Mo., Midwest BankCentre has announced plans to open a second branch either in North St. Louis County or in North St. Louis City within two years.

 SLEHCRA-MBC CommunityBenefitsPartnership 1 3_19_2015

Representatives of Midwest BankCentre and the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA) including Consumers Council of Missouri, Beloved Streets of America, Ready! Aim! Advocate! Committee, Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, Justine PETERSEN, and Community Action Agency of St. Louis County, Inc.  Photo by Laurie Medley


The bank’s decision is reflected within a new public benefits partnership plan forged with the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA) to extend the bank’s success in providing financial services to customers in the Pagedale and 24:1 area to other low-moderate income neighborhoods. SLEHCRA is a coalition of 14 nonprofit and community organizations working to increase investment in low-income and in minority communities. The 24:1 area encompasses the two dozen municipalities located within the geographic boundaries of the Normandy School District.

“We are pleased to build on the trust we’ve established with SLEHCRA members over several years of actively working together to improve community access to banking services,” said Jim Watson, chairman and chief executive officer of Midwest BankCentre. “SLEHCRA’s members are keenly aware of community needs, and we look forward to working as partners to align our services and resources in ways that increase banking access for African-American, Latino, Bosnian, Asian and other minorities living and working in low-moderate income and majority minority neighborhoods.”

“As members of SLEHCRA, we are pleased to partner with a strong, locally-owned community bank that recognizes opportunities and values partnering with our organizations to attune products, services and educational offerings to the needs of our community,” said Elisabeth Risch, director of education and research for the SLEHCRA member Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council. “We hope other banks will follow Midwest BankCentre’s proactive approach to creating a community benefits plan that provides increased access to low-cost banking services and products throughout our community.”

The bank’s planned acquisition of Southern Commercial Bank, which will double the bank’s geographic footprint, will enable building upon Midwest BankCentre’s strength in lending to African-American borrowers. The acquisition will immediately add multiple branches within South St. Louis City near clusters of various other minority groups, including Latinos living near St. Cecilia’s Parish in South St. Louis and Bosnians surrounding Southern Commercial Bank’s location at 4914 Gravois Road in the Bevo neighborhood.

Midwest BankCentre plans to build on the strengths of its combined team in lending to small businesses, with a strong focus on minority-owned firms. “This is a strategic initiative for us that helps build customer relationships, strengthens our community and contributes to the bank’s long-term success,” Watson said. “What we’re doing is what community banking is all about – helping our customers and our community be successful – supported by an exceptional team and the infrastructure of our growing branch network.”

The ongoing dialogue between Midwest BankCentre, SLEHCRA and other community organizations serving low-moderate income neighborhoods throughout St. Louis will continue, he noted. “Our goal is to continue banding together with effective organizations to do what we each do best and offer local residents and business owners the benefits of our cooperative efforts,” Watson added.

In 2012, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) ranked St. Louis third in the country for unbanked African-American households, at 28.6 percent. Nationally, 17.9 percent of non-Asian minority, lower-income, younger and unemployed households are unbanked or underbanked.

Since 2011, local nonprofit leaders, bankers and others working together as the St. Louis Regional Unbanked Task Force have focused on increasing the availability of banking products while educating local citizens about banking alternatives to paying high fees to cash checks and access other financial services. Alex Fennoy, Midwest BankCentre senior vice president and director of community development, has co-chaired the task force since its inception.

See the full SLEHCRA-MBC Community Benefits Partnership [PDF] here!

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