Friendly Temple M.B. Church

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Locally-owned Midwest BankCentre has filed applications with the Missouri Division of Finance and the Federal Reserve Bank to open new branches this year in North St. Louis and the City of St. Charles.

Pending required approvals, the North City branch will open in mid-summer on the campus of Friendly Temple Mission Baptist Church in the 5500 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood.

"We are pleased to partner with Midwest BankCentre to provide financial services to residents and businesses in the Martin Luther King Corridor, a community that has struggled to regain its prominence and realize its potential," said Senior Pastor Michael Jones. "This groundbreaking collaboration underscores Friendly Temple's community focus by empowering Corridor families with financial resources and education, and equipping local retail partners with tools to help them succeed."

Since 1996, the 12,000-member Friendly Temple has invested more than $100 million in some of St. Louis’ most underserved communities.

The North St. Louis location will mark the bank’s fifth branch within the City of St. Louis.

The St. Charles branch, its second in St. Charles County, will open later in 2016 at 1820 First Capitol Dr. within Lindenwood University’s new University Commons mixed-use development across the street from its main campus.

“Our partnerships with Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church and Lindenwood University are modeled after the mutual success and community gains achieved in partnership with Beyond Housing at our branch in the Pagedale community,” said Midwest BankCentre President and CEO Jim Watson.

The bank opened its Pagedale location at 6810 Page Ave. in November 2012 as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to “resolve allegations that the bank was engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of race or color,” according to the DOJ. It was the first bank established in the City of Pagedale, a majority African-American community, Watson said.

In 2009, the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA) accused Midwest BankCentre of “redlining,” or withholding home loans from neighborhoods often considered poor, economic risks. The alliance took the allegation to the DOJ, which ordered the bank in 2011 to invest $1.45 million in a majority African-American area.

The settlement specified that the bank had to invest $900,000 in a special financing program to increase the amount of credit it extends to the black community. The DOJ also required that it spend $300,000 for consumer education and credit repair programs and $250,000 for outreach to potential customers.

“Both branches will round out our community presence and continue building on our success in serving St. Louis’ unbanked and underbanked citizens, expressing our theme of ‘rising together,’” Watson said of the new locations. “We’ll also be able to serve the needs of more millennials with a wide array of technologically-based services.”

Midwest BankCentre plans to expand its 270-member staff by about a dozen additional employees to serve customers at the two new branches.

For more information, visit www.midwestbankcentre.com.

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