Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan Monday challenged leaders of about a dozen banks and credit unions to do more business in what he called underserved areas of West Dayton.
Riordan’s challenge came at a meeting called by the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, in response to PNC Bank closing their Westown branch this summer. That closure meant many West Dayton residents had no bank within three miles of their home.
“I think there’s a lot more money there than you might think,” Riordan said. “I think it’s a location where someone could do good … and do good business.”
The dozens of bank officials in attendance also heard from several West Dayton church leaders who said they want their sizeable deposits to go to banks that invest in their community.
“If you can justify having four, five or six branches in some other Dayton-area communities, you ought to be able to have at least one in West Dayton,” said Rev. Earl Harris of the Greater Allen AME Church. “Maybe we need to be more concerned with those institutions that do have a serious commitment to this west end of Dayton.”
The banks and credit unions who attended the meeting were PNC, Fifth Third, Key Bank, U.S. Bank, Huntington, LCNB, Day-Air, Wright-Patt, Bethel, National Bank and Trust, Security National and Citizens National.
David Melin, PNC’s Dayton regional president, said his bank plans to continue to invest in the communities where PNC does business. Riordan called on PNC to expand an early-childhood education program the bank already has in place in the Dayton area.
Asked whether PNC would consider reopening a branch in West Dayton, Melin didn’t answer directly, repeating that PNC would continue to invest in the community.
Barry Wides, deputy comptroller for community affairs, said the federal comptroller’s office doesn’t have the power to order a bank to open or close a branch.
Wides said when other communities have successfully dealt with a lack of bank access in low-income areas, it has happened because a local person or agency has taken charge and worked with community leaders and bank officials to make something happen.
Caty Crosby, executive director of Dayton’s Human Relations Council, said her group might take the lead, working with each bank’s Community Reinvestment Act officer. The CRA is a federal law designed to make sure banks meet the needs of low-income customers.
“We’re definitely going to try to follow up by the end of (October),” Crosby said.
Members of Solidarity ‘N’ Unity, a group trying to solve problems facing the local black community, pointed out that when banks leave, many residents turn to less reputable payday lenders for financial needs and end up worsening their situation.
University of Dayton economics professor Richard Stock said 2012 loan application data shows that banks issued less than 50 home refinance loans in West Dayton, and only 11 home purchase loans. Stock said these neighborhoods were devastated by the subprime lending crisis precipitated by financial institutions, and “it would be very nice to see if financial institutions were serious about lending to West Dayton area.”
Steve Petitjean, Dayton city executive for Fifth Third Bank, said it’s a matter of figuring out what the area’s needs are and how they can best be met, whether it’s a full-service bank branch or a step down from that.