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Level One Bank Arrives in Detroit

Supporting entrepreneurship and financial independence

By Patrick J. Fehring

Page 36

When you look at what is happening in the City of Detroit one cannot help but feel invigorated. A surge of development throughout the Central Business District, New Center area and Corktown. Entrepreneurs and new businesses are redefining and shaping the future of Detroit.

For some time, Level One Bank looked closely at ways to insert itself into the equation with a geographic location most conducive to exacting the greatest community impact – business or otherwise. With the new year came the opening of our new bank branch at 1420 Washington Blvd. in Detroit, just north of the Westin Book Cadillac. Based in Metro Detroit, we are at our core a community bank, exuding an entrepreneurial spirit. If ever there was a time to be in the city, we knew it had to be now.

Much more than a ‘branch’, our office offers the specialized resources of small business lending (including nonprofits), commercial banking, personal banking and residential mortgage services – all in a space designed to enhance our consultative approach. Appropriately, our office has been designated as an incubator hub for entrepreneurship with more similarly focused tenants coming. We are already off to an ambitious start.

And while one can easily be “blinded” by the luster of new projects and initiatives, we simply cannot lose sight of continued needs in our neighborhoods – including financial literacy and access to credit and capital – which can help uplift communities.

From an entrepreneurial perspective, we are partnering with Operation Hope on their “Hope Inside” initiative. Focusing on small business development, Level One Bank is providing counselors at Tech Town and Wayne State University, informing and assisting individuals and students interested in starting their own businesses. This includes entrepreneurial training sessions as well as credit counseling aimed at improving credit scores, increasing access to capital and achieving home ownership.

We have also begun a relationship with Detroit Habitat for Humanity, through new Executive Director Ken Cockrel Jr., to explore opportunities to offer financial literacy programs and help make owning a home a reality. The “Welcome Home” initiative, geared toward low to moderate income individuals seeks to help (re)develop neighborhoods by making accessible low-income down payments, 30-year fixed rate mortgages and credit counseling services.

Level One has also been honored to work with the inspiring individuals who comprise The Empowerment Plan, the Detroit nonprofit that employs women, many formerly homeless, to produce winter coats for those in need. Over the past year, our bank has provided a range of financial literacy services, including those that help individuals reestablish or strengthen credit. We have also implemented other specialized programs, including those geared toward setting up savings and checking accounts as well as a consumer loan initiative, available to those who have completed a financial education platform.

Detroit today, is a city on the rise with challenges ahead. It is thriving and it is persevering. At its core, it is poised for greatness. We are proud to be a part of it and dedicated to its success along with the success of those who live and work here everyday.

Patrick J. Fehring is Chairman, President, CEO and co-founder of Level One Bank. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Detroit Regional Chamber.