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4 mins read

First Black Owned Bank in Minneapolis Launching Next Week

When the new Minneapolis branch of First Independence Bank holds its grand opening on Tuesday, it will be the culmination of an effort that is more than a year in the making.

The Detroit-based bank is also now the first Black-owned bank in the Twin Cities.

black owned bank
Kenneth Kelly, Chairman and CEO of First Independence

Kenneth Kelly, Chairman and CEO of First Independence, says his company’s expansion is happening with the help of five major financial institutions — Bank of America, Bremer Bank, Huntington Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

“This is unprecedented what we have seen,” Kelly said. “We’ve got five major banks basically saying, ‘we want to invite a competitor into the market.’”

Kelly says it started with a conversation with other bank executives in the fall of 2020, just months after the police killing of George Floyd.

Since then, First Independence received FDIC approval to expand into the Twin Cities and open a branch at a former Wells Fargo location on University Avenue in Minneapolis.

The bank has hired local employees including Minneapolis native, Damon Jenkins, Senior VP and Market Region President.

“We’re not coming in trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re not coming in with a silver bullet approach. It’s really saying ‘how do we connect with the community?’” Jenkins said.

Calls for a Black-owned bank in the Twin Cities have grown louder following several high profile incidents of alleged discrimination.

“Those things are reality in America, so we’re not going to shy away from that, but what I will tell you… one of the things that we will try to bring to the table is the value of trust.” Kelly said. “When you’re trusting of someone, you don’t have to immediately go to suspicion.”

Jenkins, a former employee of Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, says recent incidents of alleged racial profiling motivate him to keep working to improve access to banking for everyone.

“It just reminds me that this equity journey is just that — it’s a journey and not a destination,” Jenkins said. “We’ve got a long way to go. It just reminds us we still have a lot of work to do.”

Jenkins and Kelly say First Independence Bank will focus on closing significant racial disparities in home ownership in Minnesota.

The bank is also partnering with local businesses and nonprofits to offer free financial literacy training and credit restoration services.

“That’s what makes this such a historic thing because it’s not the flavor the day” Jenkins said. “If it’s an opportunity to think different, let’s look at that. If it’s an opportunity to bank different, let’s look at that because that’s the true way we’re going to give people access and power their potential so they can tap into this journey of generational wealth as well.”

Grand opening ceremonies at First Independence Bank on University Avenue in Minneapolis will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

A second branch at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis is expected to open in June.


Source: ABC 5

2 mins read

Black Owned Bank From Detroit to open a location in Minneapolis

First Independence is a Detroit-based, Black owned bank and one of only 18 Black owned full-service banks in the U.S. In late August, it filed an application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to open a branch in Minneapolis.

The “full service” bank is expected to open a branch in early November. Another location may open by the middle of 2022, First Independence Bank chairman and CEO Kenneth Kelly said at a news conference.

“Banks are beacons of hope in their communities, and we intend to be that for the people of Minneapolis, St. Paul and the rest of the Twin Cities, particularly those who are unbanked or underbanked throughout the region,” Kelly said.

Related: Black Owned Banks Still Operating in 2021

Its arrival is supported by five banks in the Twin Cities — Bank of America, Bremer Bank, Huntington Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, who will assist with capital, research, marketing and other services.

The incoming university location was formerly a Wells Fargo bank. In March 2020, Wells Fargo made a $50 million investment in 13 Black-Owned Banks, including First Independence. Bank of America also invested in September 2020, taking equity stakes of about 5% in First Independence Bank.

The bank hopes to lessen racial disparities with a home loan program intended to reduce the gaps between Black and white homeowners and a loan program to help establish a credit score or repair personal credit, Kelly said. As a Community Development Financial Institution, the bank will have more favorable lending rates to individuals in low-income areas.

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2 mins read

National Black Bank Foundation To Refinance a $35 Million Loan For The Atlanta Hawks

The nonprofit National Black Bank Foundation and its investment unit, the Black Bank Fund, were formed in 2020 to uplift Black-owned banks and the communities they serve.

On Wednesday, the  National Black Bank Foundation announced that it has organized a syndication team of 11 banks that will refinance a $35 million construction loan for the Atlanta Hawks basketball team.

National Black Bank Foundation

According to the team, this is the first time a professional sports franchise has had a “significant loan” underwritten exclusively by Black banks.

Georgia-based Carver State Bank served as the syndicate’s lead arranger. Other banks involved were Carver Federal Savings Bank, Citizens Savings Bank, Citizens Trust Bank, Commonwealth National Bank, Industrial Bank, Liberty Bank & Trust, M&F Bank and Optus Bank.

“By selecting an all-Black bank syndicate to provide this financing, the Hawks are strengthening all of our banks. What we earn from this loan strengthens our collective ability to provide even more loans and financial services to Black small businesses and consumers, and we are able to show our ability to pull off a large, sophisticated loan transaction. Tony and his team are real allies in the movement for racial equity,” said Robert E. James, II, President, Carver Development & Chairman-Elect, National Bankers Association.

National Black Bank Foundation
The National Black Bank Foundation general counsel Ashley Bell

“Because Black-owned banks are so starved for capital, they’ve previously not been able to compete with major commercial banks or scale to meet the unique needs of borrowers of color, who are rejected for credit at twice the national rate,” said National Black Bank Foundation general counsel Ashley Bell.

Through this agreement, the Hawks are using their strong credit rating to “bolster the capital cushion for Black banks so that they can better serve their traditional customer base,” the team said in a news release. They’re also “trying to demonstrate that Black banks can compete with money center banks for commercial loans.”


Tony O. Lawson

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3 mins read

Two Black-Led Banks Just Merged to Form a $1 Billion Lender

Two Black-Led banks, City First in Washington, DC and Broadway Financial Corporation in Los Angeles, CA announced today that they have entered into a transformational Merger of Equals agreement to create the largest Black-Led bank in the nation with more than $1 billion in combined assets under management and approximately $850 million in total depository institution assets.

Combining the two institutions will increase their collective commercial lending capacity for investments in multifamily affordable housing, small businesses, and nonprofit development in financially underserved urban areas while creating a national platform for impact investors.

Brian E. Argrett, chief executive of City First, will be chief executive of the combined company, which will use City First as its banking brand but keep the publicly traded Broadway Financial Corporation as its bank holding company. Wayne-Kent A. Bradshaw, Broadway’s chief executive, will be the chairman of the combined company.

black owned banks
Brian E. Argrett

Broadway and City First are Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and have a longstanding history of advancing economic and social equity through the provision of capital in low- to moderate-income communities. The combined institution will maintain its CDFI status, requiring it to deploy at least 60% of its lending into low- to moderate-income communities

Wayne-Kent A. Bradshaw

Since the beginning of 2015, City First Bank and Broadway Federal Bank have collectively deployed over $1.1 billion combined in loans and investments in their communities

“Given the compounding factors of a global pandemic, unprecedented unemployment and social unrest resulting from centuries of inequities, the work of CDFIs has never been more urgent and necessary,” said Brian E. Argrett.“As part of this historic merger, we are demonstrating that thriving urban neighborhoods are viable markets that require a dedicated focus, long-term commitment and critical access to capital.”

“The new combined institution will strengthen our position and will help drive both sustainable economic growth and societal returns,” said Mr. Bradshaw. “We envision building stronger profitability and creating a multiplier effect of capital availability for our customers and for the communities we serve.”

The new institution will maintain bi-coastal headquarters and will continue to serve and expand in the banks’ current geographic areas, with a desire to scale to other high-potential urban markets.

Shares of Broadway Financial were up 17 percent on Wednesday afternoon. The transaction, which is expected to close early next year, will leave Broadway stockholders with 52.5 percent ownership of the new company and City First shareholders with 47.5 percent ownership.

Tony O. Lawson

Related: Black Banks That Are Still Operating In 2020

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2 mins read

Netflix is investing $100 Million in Black Owned Financial Institutions

Netflix on Tuesday announced plans to deposit 2% of its cash, or an estimated $100 million, into Black owned financial institutions and community development organizations, which have a better track record of lending to minority borrowers than mainstream consumer banks.

“We believe bringing more capital to these communities can make a meaningful difference for the people and businesses in them, helping more families buy their first home or save for college, and more small businesses get started or grow.
According to the FDIC, banks that are Black-owned or led represent a mere one percent of America’s commercial banking assets,” Netflix said in a statement.

As the first step in this $100 million commitment, Netflix will be holding $35 million of our cash in two vehicles:

  • $25 million will be moved to a newly established fund called the Black Economic Development Initiative. It will be managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a non-profit with a track record of developing underinvested communities. They will invest the funds into Black financial institutions serving low and moderate-income communities and Black community development corporations in the U.S.
  • $10 million will go to Hope Credit Union in the form of a Transformational Deposit to fuel economic opportunity in underserved communities across the Deep South. Bill Bynum, CEO of HOPE, has spent the last three decades advancing economic mobility in distressed communities.

“This capital will fuel social mobility and opportunity in the low- and moderate-income communities these groups serve. We plan to redirect even more of our cash to Black-led and focused institutions as we grow, and we hope others will do the same.”


-Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Black Banks That Are Still Operating In 2021

The number of Black banks operating in the U.S. fell 54 percent between 2001 and 2016. Many have either been acquired or have simply gone out of business.

We’ve compiled the most recent and up to date list of the banks that are still Black owned and managed and are still operating in 2021.

Black Banks

Alamerica Bank (Birmingham, AL)

Broadway Federal Bank  (Los Angeles, CA)

Carver Federal Savings Bank (New York, NY)

Carver State Bank (Savannah, GA)

Citizens Trust Bank (Atlanta, GA)

black banks
Citizens Trust Bank

Citizen Trust Bank (Birmingham, AL)

Citizens Bank (Nashville, TN)

Columbia Savings and Loan (Milwaukee, WI)

City National Bank (Newark, NJ)

Commonwealth National Bank (Mobile, AL)

First Independence Bank (Detroit, MI)

The Harbor Bank (Baltimore, MD)

GN Bank (Chicago, IL)

Industrial Bank (Washington D.C.)

black banks
Industrial Bank

Liberty Bank (New Orleans, LA)

Liberty Bank (Baton Rouge, LA)

Liberty Bank (Kansas City, MO)

Liberty Bank (Chicago, IL)

Liberty Bank (Jackson, MS)

Mechanics & Farmers Bank (Durham, NC)

OneUnited Bank (Miami, FL)

OneUnited Bank (Boston, MA)

United Bank of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA)

Unity National Bank (Houston, TX)


Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Black Owned Businesses in Atlanta

Atlanta is home to many amazing Black owned businesses. Check out the ones we’ve listed and let us know which ones we missed!

Black Owned Businesses in Atlanta

CooperRose baby

ELEMENT Circus & Event Entertainment

Floral Matters

City of Ink

black owned businesses atlanta

KTX Fitness

black owned

Gymnetics Fitness

black owned


black owned

Iwi Fresh Garden Day Spa

black owned

Nubiance Salon and Spa


Atlanta Beauty Depot (Smyrna)

black owned

Le Petit Marche

shoppe black

Sublime Doughnutsblack owned businesses atlanta

E & C Popcorn


Vivid Interiors®


Posh Atlanta Cakes


Magnifique Soiree


That’s a Wrap!13094183_10153655954547775_4109594107436396531_n

Tropic Isle Living

Black owned

Lawrence-Ray Concepts


Purple Corkscrew Wine Bar


Too Groovy Salon


TAGS Boutique



black owned businesses atlanta
FunkyFlairBoutique (Marietta)

Citizens Trust Bank

black owned businesses atlanta

Credit Union of Atlanta

1st Choice Credit Union

black owned businesses atlanta

Slutty Vegan

black owned businesses atlanta

Ms. Icey’s Kitchen & Bar

black owned businesses atlanta

Sweet Auburn Seafood

black owned businesses atlanta

Atlanta Breakfast Club

black owned businesses atlanta

Soul Crab

black owned businesses atlanta

Old Lady Gang

black owned businesses atlanta

Negril Village

black owned businesses atlanta

Local Green Atlanta

black owned businesses atlanta


Tony O. Lawson 

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