Mayors can make things happen.
Residents of the East End of Bridgeport whose Black voters overwhelmingly returned Joe Ganim to the mayoralty in 2015 have echoed for years the call for banking services in this food and financial desert.
The pieces are starting to come together for a community that feels left behind. Anthony Stewart’s Honey Locust Square development, with the backing of Ganim, is poised to brighten the face of the neighborhood: a grocery store, pharmacy, health care facility and restaurant will come to life, if construction stays on schedule, in the fall.
A bank branch inclusion, according to Stewart, serves as the perfect complement to the other amenities including a public library he built.
Last week Ganim reached out to Rene Jones, chief executive of New York-based M&T Bank that purchased financial institution People’s United Bank last year, urging a partnership with the community.
Jones responded promptly, if not decisively, that the bank wants “to make sure that we’re showing up in the most impactful way possible.”
A good start to reach common ground.
At times like these the words of East End City Councilman Ernie Newton brings things to light: “Black people have money too.”
Officials with GE Credit Union whose roots began in Bridgeport noticed Ganim’s M&T public outreach, according to City Hall, with a response of their own: we’re interested to join hands.
Talk about adding sweetness to Honey Locust Square.
GE Credit has a presence Downtown and a long history with the city:
GE Credit Union was first organized in 1940 when a group of General Electric Employees at the Bridgeport, Connecticut facility organized the General Electric Conduit and Wire Credit Union. Over the next 74 years, GE Credit Union has continued to adopt new technologies, products, and services in order to best meet the needs of our members. In 1985, the name of the credit union was changed to General Electric Employees Federal Credit Union and a new logo was introduced. After this change, GE Credit Union began adding more products and services such as Online Banker and Bill Payer, CALL 24 phone service, and numerous account types. In 2014, we updated our name to GE Credit Union and introduced a new look and feel. Despite the change to our name and appearance, we continue to provide you with exceptional, member focused service. Your money. Your dreams. Our commitment.
Structurally, a credit union offers similar services as a traditional bank, albeit boutique in nature. Not as large as a powerhouse financial institution but large enough to accommodate community needs.
Good grief, doesn’t this get M&T off the hook?
All of this is a work in progress. M&T may feel a bank branch is a nice fit in the East End based on due diligence. If not, perhaps something else is better.
In the end M&T will do what makes business sense. It could be Honey Locust is a better fit for GE Credit Union.
All an elected official can do is make a pitch and jawbone persuasively.
The bottom line: when mayors cast out a line you never know what comes back.
In this case a hook to help a neighborhood that’s helped you.
Let’s see if Ganim follows up to pull it together.