2018 National Community Bank Service Awards

Midwest BankCentre Winner of 2018 National Community Bank Service Awards

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St. Louis’ Midwest BankCentre is featured in the September 2018 edition of ICBA Independent Banker as the national winner of 2018 National Community Bank Service Awards, sponsored by the Independent Community Bankers of America®. The bank’s impact on bringing mainstream banking services to “unbanked” or “underbanked” families in the St. Louis metro area is featured in a two-page story headlined, “Reaching the unbanked – for everyone’s benefit.”

“A first-time homebuyer in St. Louis recently broke down at closing. The single mother of two had come to Midwest BankCentre with a dream of owning her own home. She took the bank’s financial empowerment and education classes, and attended homebuyer classes from a local housing partner. And as she signed the papers, she became the first person in her family to ever own a home,” the article began.

“That’s why we do what we do,” said Alex Fennoy, executive vice president of community and economic development at Midwest BankCentre. “It’s all about giving those families that have been historically locked out an opportunity to make their lives better.”

Since a 2009 FDIC survey of the most populated U.S. cities found that St. Louis had the greatest disparity between unbanked African-American households (31 percent) and unbanked white households (1.1 percent), the bank’s multifaceted efforts have helped reduce the percentage of unbanked African-American households in St. Louis to 13.3 percent.

The bank has opened branches in African-American-majority neighborhoods, hired African-American and woman-owned contractors to build its branches, and staffed banks with neighborhood residents. The bank has greatly increased the diversity of its staff and legal board to be more representative of the communities it serves. “That has really helped us – from making connections in the community, to sorting out the best strategic partners for us to further develop our franchise, and even down to product development and tracking our progress in the community,” said Chairman and CEO Jim Watson.

The bank’s next goal is to help grow African-American-owned businesses by working with the Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce, a unit of the US Black Chambers of Commerce. Veta T. Jeffery, senior vice president of community and economic development at the bank, was recently elected to the US Black Chambers’ board as national director of chamber relations. In that role, she will work to connect top African-American-owned businesses with Fortune 500 companies to generate economic growth.

Midwest BankCentre was selected from more than 100 nominees for the ICBA honor.

Midwest BankCentre, a mainstay of St. Louis community banking since 1906, employs a staff of nearly 300 working at 19 bank locations in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, Jefferson County and St. Charles County. Further details are available at www.midwestbankcentre.com.

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ICBA Names Midwest BankCentre as a National Award Recipient For the 2018 National Community Bank Service Awards

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Midwest BankCentre has been selected as a national award recipient by the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) for the 2018 National Community Bank Service Awards. The program recognizes outstanding and innovative volunteer efforts by the nation’s community banks.

ICBA selected Midwest BankCentre from among more than 100 nominations for its high-impact service and economic empowerment programs that have brought mainstream banking services to more than 1,200 previously “unbanked” or “underbanked” families in the St. Louis metro area. Bank employees contributed more than 4,700 volunteer hours in 2017 to help hundreds of immigrants, minorities and economically disadvantaged citizens gain access to financial services, and spur community redevelopment and reinvestment.

“Midwest BankCentre’s outreach initiative was inspired in part by a 2009 FDIC survey ranking the St. Louis metro area as the third highest city for unbanked African-American households in the nation,” said Alex Fennoy, executive vice president of community and economic development at Midwest BankCentre. “We are honored that ICBA has recognized our comprehensive effort to serve as agents of positive change. Through the spirit of inclusivity, we are making a difference and improving the overall economic welfare of our community.”

Among Midwest BankCentre’s notable collaborative initiatives are its significant investments in facilities and staff to support re-emerging African-American majority neighborhoods. The bank operates full-service branches in Pagedale, at Friendly Temple in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood and on North Broadway in the near north riverfront area north of downtown St. Louis.

The award also recognized Midwest BankCentre’s embrace of St. Louis’ Bosnian community, with Bosnian-speaking employees at four of its 19 branches. In March 2018, the bank received the Bosnia Memory Project Community Leader Award for its long-term support of the Bosnia Memory Project at Fontbonne University which is working to create an enduring record of Bosnian genocide survivors.

Midwest BankCentre’s outreach to the local Hispanic and Latino community has included a special mortgage product for immigrants with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) but no social security number. Jim Watson, chairman and CEO of Midwest BankCentre, was recently honored with the Chairman’s Award by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for lifting up the Hispanic community of metro St. Louis.

ICBA also noted the bank’s diversification of its legal board in recent years and its 2012 formation of an advisory board composed of local educators, public servants, clergy and business owners to ensure newly developed products and services meet customers’ needs.

“Community service and volunteerism are hallmarks of community banking,” said ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey. “We commend and thank Midwest BankCentre and its employees for their unwavering dedication and commitment to ensuring the vitality of their communities and the financial health of local residents who call it home.”

More than 100 community banks and employees have been recognized since ICBA launched the National Community Bank Service Award program in 2002. Bank technology services provider FIS, Jacksonville, Fla., sponsored this year’s program. Midwest BankCentre and other award recipients will be featured in the September issue of Independent Banker® magazine. 

Midwest BankCentre, a mainstay of St. Louis community banking since 1906, employs a staff of nearly 300 working at 19 bank locations in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, Jefferson County and St. Charles County. Further details are available at www.midwestbankcentre.com. 

The Independent Community Bankers of America® is the nation’s voice for nearly 5,700 community banks of all sizes and charter types. It is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education, and high-quality products and services. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org.

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