After People’s merger, M&T Bank focuses on “community development”


Following its merger with People’s United Financial, M&T Bank pledged $ 43 billion in loans, investments, grants and other financial projects over five years to support low- and moderate-income families.

The bank worked with the National Reinvestment Coalition to develop the Community Benefits Agreement. According to a press release sent this week.

“When the merger took place, they were quite willing to participate in the set-up,” said Jesse Van Tol, president and CEO of the coalition.

M&T announced its acquisition of Bridgeport-based People’s United in February. M&T said it would cut hundreds of positions in the merger.

“At its core, M&T is a bank deeply committed to serving our communities and making a difference in people’s lives,” said René Jones, President and CEO of M&T Bank, in a statement on the business plan. community. “We are also committed to taking action to help address inequalities that have existed for years. This plan is another step in our journey to orient ourselves towards what our communities need most. “

The bank’s new deal promises $ 11.95 billion over five years in “loans and investments in community development,” including the low-income housing tax credit program, the new housing tax credits. market tax and investment programs for small businesses, the statement said.

As part of a new small business lending requirement, the bank is collecting data on the race of its lenders, and once that information is available, the company will make more nuanced plans to increase lending to minority-owned businesses. , said Van Tol.

About $ 15.8 billion will go to homeownership and affordable housing programs. Part of this will be loans for home improvement projects and investments in affordable multi-family housing.

In Connecticut, there is a shortage of nearly 87,000 available and affordable housing units for very low-income renters. Advocates said it was difficult to develop affordable multi-family housing in the state because of restrictive zoning laws. Housing is considered affordable if people spend up to one-third of their income on rent.

Noah Gotbaum, managing director and president of Building Neighborhoods Together, said he believes community development and housing initiatives would particularly benefit Bridgeport and southern Connecticut.

Gotbaum’s organization develops affordable housing and manages properties for people with low to moderate incomes in Fairfield County and southern Connecticut. He added that M&T and People’s have already made philanthropic contributions to the community in recent years.

“They are just saying, ‘We’re going to do even more because we have an even greater responsibility to Bridgeport now that we are merging with People,” “Gotbaum said.

The bank also plans to increase small business loans by $ 10.5 billion over five years. The increases will target communities where the median income is less than 80% of the metropolitan statistical region’s median income and minority communities, according to the press release.

In addition, the bank has launched a financial education initiative and will designate up to 115 banks as “multicultural banking centers” with bilingual employees. The bank also created a Spanish version of its website and added Chinese and Korean to its ATMs.

The bank is also working to find ways to improve access to services in rural and urban areas where there is a “limited presence of financial institutions,” the statement said.

This is not the first such shot that Van Tol’s group is working on, he said.

The first plan started in 2016, so the group will be evaluating its effect on the community over the next year, he said.

“We know anecdotally that many of these plans are making a real difference,” Van Tol added.

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