Magazine article American Banker

Comerica Focuses on Minority Merchant Groups

Magazine article American Banker

Comerica Focuses on Minority Merchant Groups

Article excerpt

Chamber of commerce breakfasts and Rotary Club lunches have long been fertile grounds for bankers in search of small-business clientele.

Comerica Inc. still sends its officers to network with these traditional business organizations. But to focus its small-business marketing efforts, the Detroit banking company has also joined dozens of groups in the past few years that are organized along racial, ethnic, and gender lines.

Convinced, for example, that it should solicit black-owned businesses more intensively, Comerica participates in the Booker T. Washington Business Association, the African American Contractors Association, the Black Women Contractors Association, and similar groups in Detroit.

"We're part of the fabric of those organizations," said Linda D. Forte, the director of its 4-year-old African-American Business Initiative and the manager of a small-business loan group. "Our idea is to build and strengthen relationships within this market."

In addition, Vivian Carpenter, the chairwoman of the Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce, said Comerica was a key supporter in its formation in December 2000.

The company maintains parallel initiatives devoted to generating business with Hispanic, Arab-American, and women business owners.

Comerica supports business organizations whose members it regards as business prospects. It sponsors events and sends officers to regular meetings. Ms. Forte would not quantify the results of the African American Business Initiative, which is active in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich. …

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