By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The first Black-owned bank in the Twin Cities will officially open next Tuesday.

First Independence Bank is headquartered in Detroit, and made the move to Minnesota with the collaborative help of five major Twin Cities banks — each making commitments to racial equity after the murder of George Floyd.

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The bank is hoping to a point of pride for this region.

Since late February, First Independence Bank has been serving people at its new branch in the Twin Cities by appointment only. That all changes on August 26, when this beacon of hope officially opens its doors.

South Minneapolis native Damon Jenkins serves as senior vice president and regional director for First Independence Bank.

“This goes beyond that general phrase of it being a beacon of hope for Black people. You know, with everything that has happened over the last two years here in the community, specifically the Black community, we need that sense of hope, but we also need that sense of commitment to the racial inequities here in the Twin Cities,” said Jenkins.

His marching orders: Establish trust in a community and educate them about financial wellness in an attempt to erase long-standing racial and financial inequities in the Black community.

(credit: CBS)

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“It’s financial literacy and credit restoration, but the end goal that we are trying to achieve is getting people to a 700 FICO score,” he said.

Five major Twin Cities banks support the effort to bring First Independence to Minnesota. US Bank, Bank of America, Bremer Bank, Huntington Bank and Wells Fargo offer capital, research, marketing and other services.

Because of this connection, people who join First Independence will have access to all its supporting banks ATMs at no charge. That’s 55,000 ATMs.

This full-service bank’s first move is to get people into the lobby to serve.

“Our community will be independent if we make it independent,” said customer Jaki Gardner. “We have to support what is here to serve us. If we don’t support the organizations that put themselves here to serve us then we will fail as a community.”

Jenkins says First Independence is a minority-owned Black institution, but it is not Black only.

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The first branch officially opens Tuesday at 3430 University Avenue SE. A second branch near Lake Street and Franklin Avenue will open this summer.

Reg Chapman