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‘A Real Opportunity’: Detroit-Based Bank Expands to Minneapolis and Makes History as the City’s First Black-Owned Bank

Minnesota just got its first Black-owned bank as First Independence Bank opens in Minneapolis.

Detroit-based First Independence Bank has opened its first-ever branch outside of Michigan. The Black-owned bank has just opened the first of two planned locations in Minneapolis.

Grand opening of First Independence Bank, Minneapolis (photo from Facebook @firstindependence)

The bank opened its first Twin Cities branch on April 26 in southeast Minneapolis. A second branch is expected to open in June.

“I grew up on the south side; I am product of that,” Damon Jenkins, senior vice president and Twin Cities regional market president of First Independence Bank, told KSTP. “Selfishly, I wanted to be in a seat of influence to help people who look like me.

Jenkins will head the new First Independence Bank branch in southeast Minneapolis. 

“This is a real opportunity to really say how do we think different. It really gives us a chance to serve different and really bring access to communities that have been cut out of banking, but cut out of resources for some time,” Jenkins said.

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.

First Independence is the seventh-largest African American-owned bank in the U.S., and as of 2020 had total assets of $265 million. The bank was founded in 1864.

According to Kelly, First Independence started to look at bringing a branch to Minneapolis in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020. On top of this, the city’s Black leaders had been calling for banking alternatives after several high-profile incidents of alleged discrimination.

A news investigation done by KSTP’s 5 Investigates aired body camera video from two incidents at U.S. Bank locations in Columbia Heights and Bloomington in which bank employees called police on Black customers who were trying to conduct simple bank transactions.

Read full story at Finurah here.

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