Magazine article Independent Banker

A Special Mission

Magazine article Independent Banker

A Special Mission

Article excerpt

Urban Partnership Bank builds up people and communities

When Urban Partnership Bank in Chicago was born four years ago from the remains of a failed community development institution, its mission was revised and then revived again.

"Our mission is just to be a solid commercial bank that focuses on our neighborhoods," says Bill Farrow, president of the $900 million-asset community bank with a Community Development Financial Institution charter. That special charter allows the bank, one of 40 in the nation that is both a minority depository institution and a CDFI, to receive funding from the U.S. Treasury to help serve distressed and underserved communities and consumers.

More specifically, Farrow points to Urban Partnership Bank's four aims: serving its customers, building vibrant neighborhoods, promoting local economic sustainability, and ensuring the bank's long-term success.

Urban Partnership Bank serves primarily lower- to moderate-income neighborhoods on Chicago's south and west sides as well as in Detroit. Part of its regular efforts involve coaching business owners on essential financial matters, Farrow says.

"A lot of the business owners in our neighborhoods are very good operators but are not necessarily trained in how to work with a bank," he says. "We've had several instances where we've told people that they were not ready to be bankable and that they had to do certain things, and they've come back as bankable entities and created some very successful businesses."

Tess Ousley owns All About Kids Learning Academy Inc., a child development center with three locations in Chicago. Loans from Urban Partnership Bank and its predecessor institution have helped Ousley grow from two to 51 employees in 17 years.

"I'm not just a business owner on a sheet of paper to them," Ousley says of the bank. "They understand that because they're helping me, they're helping other families-the families we serve and the families of the people we employ. …

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