As the fallout over the transformation of Park National Bank into U.S. Bank settles, more than a few people around Oak Park and other areas are wondering what the change will mean to the programs Mike Kelly’s old bank faithfully supported.
There are concerns that U.S. Bank does not share Park National’s philosophy regarding lower income customers and Park National’s commitment to low income neighborhoods.
A U.S. Bank Corp spokesperson said Tuesday those concerns are unfounded, and said the bank would be taking the next two or three months to review and assess the Chicago area’s community development issues.
Angie Marks, a vice president with Park Bank Initiatives, said Monday it was too early to tell what changes, if any, might develop. Marks declined to talk with the media regarding anything related to Friday’s decision by the FDIC to take over Park National. Other bank employees also declined to talk to the media.
One source did say Park National Bank employees were told Sunday during a “meet and greet” at a hotel on Higgins Road with representatives of U.S. Bancorp that there would be few if any changes made until after January.
U.S. Bank spokesperson Lisa Clark said Tuesday the new owners were aware of Park National’s community development involvement, and needed “to review and evaluate” the situation.
“I would think we’d need a few months to understand what we need to do,” she said.
Whatever fault the FDIC found with Park National’s capitalization levels, many people in the western suburbs say Park National was a good bank, in terms of its commitment to the community around it.
Sarah Lira is executive director of Housing Helpers, Inc., an organization that assists homeowners in Maywood. Lira reflected the view of many when she praised Park National’s involvement both in helping address the distressed housing market and with counseling homeowners and potential homeowners regarding mortgages. Like many others, she’s also worried that won’t be continued under U.S. Bank ownership.
“My only concern is that they won’t continue with the Park Bank Initiatives,” said Lira.
U.S. Bank’s Clark said Tuesday the bank remains committed to its involvement in community development initiatives in the areas it services in 24 states. She noted that U.S. Bank Corp’s subsidiary, U.S. Bank Corp Community Development Corp, on Monday received $95 million in New Market Tax Credits. On Friday, just hours before its takeover by the FDIC, Park Bank Initiatives had received $50 million from that program.
“We have a very strong record of community development,” said Clark. She said she expected the $50 million in tax credits granted to Park Bank Initiatives will most likely be folded into the $95 million in credits given U.S. Bank.
Clark’s contention was supported by statements by a US Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund spokesperson in Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune. That division of the treasury department administers the tax-credit program.
“Even in cases like this one, where a bank is being acquired by another bank, U.S. Bank, the surviving entity, is fully capable of administering the award,” the Tribune quoted the treasury spokesperson as saying Monday.
U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. invests in affordable housing developments, historical renovation projects and New Markets Tax Credit financing projects nationwide.
Clark referred a reporter to the U.S. Bancorp Web site, which states it “works in partnership with hundreds of organizations across our 24-state banking region to help develop affordable housing, foster economic revitalization, or provide training and education to small businesses, consumers and first-time homebuyers.”
“We firmly believe that when our communities succeed, we all succeed,” the Web site statement concludes.
U.S. Bank Corp. Community Development Corp’s Zach Boyers spoke publicly on the day of his promotion to CEO and chairman last year, of his “commitment to being an agent of positive change in economically distressed areas across America.”
“One of the most satisfying results of our work with partners who are also dedicated to using private capital for social good has been seeing the constructive economic and social transformations that have taken place in communities because of the tax credit programs that USBCDC uses as its tools.”