Bank pledges $30B in community investments, lending

Fifth Third says investments will cover 10 states, including Ohio.

Fifth Third Bank pledged Friday to boost its community lending and investment commitments by $2.5 billion to $30 billion over the next four years.

The pledge covers the bank’s 10-state region, including Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and other states.

Greg Carmichael, Fifth Third president and chief executive, announced the signing Friday of what he called a “landmark community development plan.”

“Fifth Third commits to $30 billion (in) investments in the Community Service Bank for the year 2020,” he said in a press conference. “This represents the largest community development plan ever initiated by a regional bank in the region’s history, and we’re very, very proud of it.”

The bank had already made a commitment earlier this year of $27.5 billion. The new announcement raises the commitment by another $2.5 billion, said Carmichael, who is a University of Dayton graduate.

Fifth Third has 47 branches with 700 employees in the Dayton market, Carmichael told this news outlet in an August interview.

The first commitment “reflected our willingness to commit significant resources to the community,” he said.

In July, the Federal Reserve system gave the bank a “needs to improve” rating — the second lowest in a range of four ratings — on its community investments.

The bank was criticized for what the feds called violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Act and the Fair Housing Act.

Carmichael promised more small business lending, “micro-lending,” community development loans and investments and more. He also pledged greater philanthropy, branch openings, financial services, with attention to “cooperative public policy for low- to moderate-income and high-minority communities.”

John Taylor, president and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, hailed the plan.

“It’s a new day,” Taylor said at the press conference, held at Fifth Third’s Cincinnati headquarters. “This bank is clearly recognizing not only its responsibility, but its commitment to serve under-served communities.”

He called banks “our neighborhoods’ best hope.”

Asked about possible specific investments planned for the Dayton area, a bank spokeswoman told this news outlet the bank can’t share market allocations right now.

“I can tell you that goals we are laying out by market are more than we’ve historically done,” said Stacie Haas, a Fifth Third spokeswoman. “I can also tell you that the commitment dollars for lending and investments are proportional to our market share in each market and our philanthropic donations are proportional in the same way.”

Montgomery County government, the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, Inc., the Miami Valley Urban League, the city of Dayton Human Relations Council, the Home Ownership Center of Greater Dayton as well as the Small Business Development Center at Wright State University all signed on to the bank’s plan, according to a release from Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland.

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