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Park Bank Initiatives remains in limbo

By ANDREA BACON
Intern Reporter
November 12, 2009

While U.S. Bancorp finalizes its purchase of Park National Bank, officials put the
breaks on Park Bank Initiative’s community-based projects set to revitalize low-
income areas in Maywood and surrounding areas.

MAYWOOD |  US Bancorp officials say ‘it’s too early’ to determine if US Bank, N.A.,
one of the largest small business and home lenders in the country, will remain
committed to community-based initiatives in and around Maywood.  For now, Park
Bank Initiatives, a community program created by Park National Bank, remains in
limbo as US Bank works on finalizing the details of their recent acquisition.
 
On October 30, after entering into an agreement with the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation (FDIC), US Bank acquired Park National Bank Chicago and eight other
banking institutions across the country.  As part of the agreement they
subsequently obtained all deposits and most of the assets of the nine failed banks,
which included the purchase of 18.4 billion of assets in addition to 13.8 billion of
loans.  Combined, the banks had assets of 19.4 billion and deposits of 15.4 billion.
 
In a press release issued the same day as the closings, US Bank established that
the new agreement would be a plus for new customers who would be offered a
“broader array of products and services”.  US Bank’s Senior Vice President of
Media Relations, Steve Dale, said in an interview with the Journal those amenities
will include “full access to US Bank product and services.”  Assistant Vice President
of Media Relations, Lisa Clark, added that will also include several loan programs
for homes and small businesses.  “We’ll look at what they—acquired banks—
offered, and what we offer.”
  
The closing of Park National took place the same day the bank’s community
development unit, Park Bank Initiatives, received 50 million dollars from US
Department of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, according to a WGN news
report.  Geithner was in Chicago to help stimulate investment in low-income
communities.
 
In a written statement to the Journal, a spokesperson for the US Department of
Treasury affirmed that the 50 million Park National received has not been lost as a
result of the acquisition.  “No taxpayer dollars have been lost because Park National
Bank received tax credits, not a direct government grant, and the tax credits have
not been awarded to investors.”  “Even in cases like this one, where a bank is being
acquired by another bank, the surviving entity (US Bank) is fully capable of
administering the award.”
 
US Bank however, said it’s “too early to tell” how they will distribute the funds.  
“It’s like when you just move into a new house, and someone asks what color you
are painting the dining room,” said Dale.  “We haven’t gotten that far yet.”  “We’re
trying to get things sorted out.”  Lisa Glover, US Bank’s Senior Vice President and
Director of Community Affairs, said the company “will work together to reach out and
ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our communities.”
 
The spokesperson for the Treasury added that the CDFI (Community Development
Financial Institutions) plans to work with Park National to finalize an agreement in
managing the tax credits.
 
The CDFI program was established to use federal resources to invest in and build
the capacity of CDFIs to serve low income people and communities lacking
adequate access to affordable financial products and services.  Since its inception,
the fund has made more than $500 million in awards to loan funds, banks, credit
unions, and community development venture capital funds.  

Park National Bank Initiatives

Currently serving four neighborhoods in and around Chicago, including Maywood,
Park Bank Initiatives contributes to projects including historic renovations, new
home developments, and the rehabilitation of foreclosed homes.  

In Maywood, Park Initiatives works with neighborhood services including Housing
Helpers, where they provide home buyer training and foreclosure counseling.  One
of their larger projects, Come Home to Maywood, works to alleviate the foreclosure
crisis that has affected over 500 properties in Maywood.  Come Home acquires
vacant properties or abandoned properties, redeveloping them, and making them
available for low-income housing.  As of September, the program has worked on six
properties in Maywood.  
 
“Park National Bank has a rich heritage of support to its communities and has been
an active partner to nonprofits in the Chicago area,” said Lisa Glover, US Senior
Vice President and Director of Community Affairs. “US Bank also believes in being a
strong community partner and responsible corporate citizen, and we have a robust
community development program.”

US Bank Community Relations

US Bank’s community involvement spans to the larger US Bancorp Foundation,
which provides cash grants to qualified nonprofit organizations.  Qualified
organizations include those who have tax-exempt status under IRS section 501(c)
(3), deliver effective programs with measurable outcomes in response to community
needs, and are financially stable.  The foundation also provides funding, including
loans, for programs that assist low-and moderate-income individuals, small business
development and expansion, and commercial revitalization.