Urban Partnership Bank didn’t abandon ShoreBank’s legacy of community banking when it took over the failed bank’s assets last year. Instead the newly-minted bank looked to expand that legacy.
Urban Partnership rolled out its new services during a Nov. 10 ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new micro-branch at 5253 W. Madison, joined by bank officials, community and political leaders.
The institution will now provide more banking services beyond commercial and residential lending for West Side customers. Urban Partnership plans to offer more retail banking and personal account services, including checking, savings and retirement investments.
Last year, it acquired the assets of ShoreBank after federal regulators seized the once prominent community development bank.
The expanded services will allow Urban Partnership to serve Austin’s entire banking needs, including those of churches, nonprofits, small businesses and faith-based organizations, said Daryl Newell, its director of consumer banking
Newell explained that when a business’ banking needs are met, they can grow and hire more residents. Also, nonprofits need a bank willing to work with them when grant funding slows, Newell said, adding that ministries need funding to continue their work in the community.
“All of those services make the community viable; so that is why we want to be full service. We have to understand what goes on in the communities,” Newell said.
That entails having a state-of-the-art facility to accommodate the expanded services. Urban Partnership’s new storefront facility is a departure from ShoreBank’s previous location at 5100 W. Harrison. Officials said the former location was not equipped to handle the new technology needed for its expanded services. The bank wanted a smaller facility, one more accessible and visible. Officials maintain that the Madison Street location provides that.
“Typically, when you deal with retail banking you always want to meet (customers) where they live and work,” Newell said.
These new services now put Urban Partnership on par with larger banks. Brian Berg, UPB’s public communications director, said people often criticize small community banks for not offering such things as on-line banking and 24-hour ATMs-all items that are offered by larger banks.
“A lot of the big conveniences you find, typically, at the bank next door or major institutions we brought here to the Austin community at a better cost,” Berg said.
Still crucial to Urban Partnership’s mission is the residential real-estate lending program, a hallmark program for ShoreBank. But the institution is taking the program a step further. The bank now offers a mentorship program where novice multi-unit developers can partner with seasoned ones.
“Now we have an opportunity to educate more people,” Newell said.
The program, he adds, will help developers do “due diligence” to market the property, screen tenants and ensure energy efficiencies. Berg adds that the goal is to reduce costly mistakes that could put the building in foreclosure.
“The people who are going to be buying the buildings … got to do it right,” he said. “They need to do it right the first time, and we want them to be successful for the long haul.”
Building financial literacy is also core to Urban Partnership’s mission, officials insist. In some cases, Berg noted financial literacy starts at the tellers’ booth. He explained that they often hear customers’ financials concerns.
If they’re concerned about paying for college, dealing with elder care issues or trying to understand a will, the bank can connect them with the proper service.
“Financial literacy begins the minute you walk through the door,” Berg said. “That is the big difference with a community development bank than the large banks.”
Ald. Deborah Graham (29), who attended the grand opening, is excited about Urban Partnership Bank opening in Austin. The community, Graham said, has been hit hard by the economy, especially with home foreclosures. The alderman hopes the bank builds on the legacy left behind by ShoreBank, and serve as a catalyst to create “that economic boom that we need.”