First Independence Bank
First Independence Bank has served Detroit communities for more than 40 years. They have always treated customers as their most important asset, with products and services designed to best-serve customers' needs. First Independence takes their responsibilities as a member of their community seriously and it is their policy to never trade off profits for citizenship responsibilities. First Independence provides high-quality, meaningful jobs to employees while contributing to the success of their communities and shareholders.
"My mom always told me to be careful what you pray for," says Damon Jenkins, as he steps into banking history as leader for Minnesota's first Black-owned and Black-controlled full service bank. Jenkins has joined Detroit's First Independence Bank to head the financial institution's Minnesota expansion this fall. The banking venture is in part a response to the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. And because the incident took place in the neighborhood he grew up in, Jenkins says the tragedy hit him hard. Jenkins’ prayers and preparation landed him his new role as First Independence Bank senior vice president and regional consultant for the Twin Cities. In this role, he will direct all facets of operations for the retail branch offices in the Minneapolis area.
Detroit-based First Independence Bank, one of only 18 Black-owned full-service banks in the country, has filed an application to open a branch in the Twin Cities. The first branch is set to open in November. Five banks in the Twin Cities—Bank of America, Bremer Bank, Huntington Bank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo—are each supporting First Independence Bank's arrival with capital, research, marketing, and other services to assure its start-up and long-term success. Gov. Tim Walz welcomed the news. "In Minnesota, we know that a strong economy is an equitable economy, and the opening of First Independence Bank is a notable milestone to achieving an economy that works for all Minnesotans," Walz said in a joint statement with Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan released on Aug. 19. "I offer my warmest congratulations to First Independence Bank, and I thank our entire banking community in Minnesota for providing the support and capital to make this a reality."
Creating a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace is the right thing to do — and research shows it's good for business. These leaders have championed DEI in their organization as CEOs, chief diversity officers and VPs, operations and human resource directors and as advocates and volunteers. They've done the work to help people have uncomfortable conversations, implemented creative and effective trainings and focused on equity and justice in their communities. Included is Kenneth Kelly, Chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank.