Citizens Bank should take its responsibility seriously

Posted: January 02, 2002

ON SEPT. 13, Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a resolution that I sponsored calling on the Philadelphia Community Reinvestment Commission to establish reinvestment agreements with banks entering the Philadelphia market.

The resolution cited that reinvestment commission member Mellon Bank had sold its branches to Citizens Bank. Mellon's appointment to the commission was due to its market share of small business lending in low -income communities.

Recently released data from the City Controller's Office shows that loans for small business in low-income communities are decreasing. Yet, what does Citizens Bank do as it enters our market? A $350,000 publicity stunt offering a free ride for five hours. As a policy leader with regard to community reinvestment, I contend, Citizens Bank shouldn't get a free ride or a cheap ride into this market.

Citizens Bank should recognize that as one of the largest financial institutions in Philadelphia, its behavior will have a meaningful effect on the competitiveness of the region.

Citizens Bank also should recognize that there are banking needs - and therefore business opportunities - in all areas of Philadelphia, including low- and moderate-income and historically disadvantaged communities. The bank's commitment to community reinvestment should be strong in terms of small business and home mortgage loans in those communities as well as community development investments. Regardless of their track record, it must be demonstrated locally.

I call on Citizens Bank to work with the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, which negotiated a reinvestment agreement with First Union, to establish reinvestment goals as benchmarks against which their progress can be measured. *

Wilson Goode, Jr. is a member of Philadelphia City Council.

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