By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Black-owned bank from Detroit is coming to Minneapolis. First Independence Bank is one of 18 Black-owned banks in the U.S. It’s the first time this bank has ventured outside of Michigan to set up shop.

Some of the largest banks in the Twin Cities encouraged them to come here.

“We are coming there with the intent of listening first and serving second,” Kenneth Kelly said.

Chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank, Kenneth Kelly, is excited to be expanding to the land of 10,000 lakes. He knows the region’s big racial wealth gap and he hopes the addition of this Black-owned bank can help.

“It’s an opportunity for us to really love our value systems and most importantly to serve the community. We realize there are issues in Minneapolis and we are coming really humbly to figure out how can we become a part of the collaboration that you have seen, that has been unprecedented in a manner that will certainly benefit the community there,” said Kelly.

The first branch will open in November, off of University Avenue Southeast. Hiawatha Avenue and Lake Street will be home to its second branch.

Kelly commends Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Huntington, Bremer Bank and Bank of America for their commitment to putting community first by inviting another financial institution to the area.

“We had some preexisting relationship with some of the firms, and it just made it that much easier when exploring how can we work together. I will give them credit — all five of those banks had discussions and thought through how can we do this collectively and check our brands at the door in a way that it would benefit the people of Minneapolis,” Kelly said.

First Independence Bank was created after the 1967 riots in Detroit. Community and business leaders involved in this move believe working with First Independence is the first step in erasing disparities that have existed for generations.

“Having a Black bank is just one step in an entire financial ecosystem that we need to bring to this region to help sort of minimize many of these economic disparities we are all concerned about,” said Greg Cunningham.

South High School graduate Damon Jenkins will serve as regional president. Jenkins has worked in the Twin Cities for both Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank.

Reg Chapman