Supporting MDIs: Partnering with First Independence Bank

February 28, 2022
The new First Independence Bank branch at 3430 University Ave. SE in Minneapolis opens this month.

U.S. Bank helped FIB secure a new branch in Minneapolis, the 50-year-old bank's first location outside of Detroit.

When the leadership teams of First Independence Bank (FIB) and U.S. Bank met for the first time in 2019, it was evident that these financial institutions shared great synergy and values such as providing financial access to customers and the community and powering human potential.

It was an easy and natural evolution, then, for U.S. Bank to enter in a partnership with FIB, one of only 17 Black-owned full-service banks in the country, to serve as a mentor as part of the Bureau of the U.S. Treasury Mentor Protégé Program. In its mentor role, U.S. Bank provides guidance and insight to FIB as it strives to become a provider of financial services to the Treasury Department.

Over the past few years, U.S. Bank and FIB have furthered the partnership with additional capital investments, mentoring, payments partnerships and most recently supporting FIB in opening its first branch outside of Detroit in Minneapolis.

U.S. Bank along with four other banks – Bank of America, Bremer Bank, Huntington Bank and Wells Fargo -- helped FIB secure the new branch at 3430 University Ave. SE in Minneapolis. The branch is set to open its doors in late February with a grand opening to follow this spring. 

While each company has made investments toward racial equity, the banks wanted to see what they could do if they came together. “For U.S. Bank supporting FIB is part of U.S. Bank Access Commitment™, our long-term approach to help build wealth, redefine how we serve diverse communities and create more opportunities for employees, starting with the Black community,” said Tim Welsh, U.S. Bank Vice Chair of Consumer and Business Banking. “We collectively asked ourselves what we could do to help close the racial wealth gap by working together. Supporting FIB, an established Black-owned bank, and its expansion into this region rose to the top of the list.”  

Helda Saad (center), AVP executive project manager/director of mortgage lending for FIB, chats with Damon Jenkins (right), senior vice president, and Andrew Ndekwe, branch manager.

Following the civil rebellion in Detroit in 1967, two dozen of Detroit’s prominent Black business and community leaders pushed for tangible change to address the lack of opportunity and the frustration that had boiled over into the streets of the city. In the 1970s, their organized action resulted in the opening of FIB. Now more than 50 years later, there are two branches in metro Detroit and FIB ranks as the seventh largest Black-led financial institution in the U.S.

“We are thrilled to be working with these five banks to open a branch in the region,” FIB Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Kelly said. “Banks are beacons of hope in their communities, and we intend to be that for the people of Minneapolis, St. Paul and the rest of the Twin Cities, particularly those who are unbanked or underbanked throughout the region.”

The support of all five large banks includes capital, research, marketing, and other services to assure a solid start and long-term success for FIB. Additionally, since 2019 U.S. Bank has partnered with FIB by:

  • Collaborating to deploy a branded credit card 
  • Partnering on a merchant services referral program
  • Providing HR talent development and sourcing strategies
  • Supporting New Markets Tax Credits applications and advice
  • Utilizing their expertise in helping us develop a resource guide for other Minority Deposit Institutions (MDIs)

“We are just starting to scratch the surface on what we can do when we all work together,” said Tyann Allen, U.S. Bank Vice President in government banking. “FIB is well on its way to expansion – not only with a physical location in the Twin Cities but also through its various business lines. It is critical that we support MDIs in their journey to provide more financial services to the community, families and individuals.”

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