Highland Community Bank, one of just three black-owned banks left in Chicago, could be saved if it can raise funds and close on an acquisition.
The bank has been in financial trouble for years. It was ordered by bank regulators to raise money at the end of 2012. At that time, the bank had $83 million in assets and $2.2 million in losses.
The possibility on the table comes from Matthew Roth, a former bank executive who is looking to start a minority-focused financial institution, would take over Highland and rename it Generations Community Bank. But, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, Highland needs to raise $8 million or more for this plan to work. (Roth wouldn’t confirm this figure.) Not really much by bank standards, one would think.
“If Mr. Roth is successful, Highland could well lose its status as a black-owned bank, but would be officially listed as a ‘minority-led’ institution because more than half of its board would be minority individuals,” Crain’s reports.
While it would be a shame to see a black-owned bank lose that status, the more important thing is to have a solid financial service provider accessible to the African-American and minority communities of Chicago (and other cities as well). As it is, a lot of people in under-serviced areas are relying on things like pre-paid debit cards and checks cashing facilities to do their banking, which comes with high fees and little chance of saving money. A bank that wants to go into the community and provide this service should be supported.