Fifth Third Bank invests up to $20 million into Historic West End

The money will go toward lending, investments, and philanthropic support that includes grants for neighbors on the Historic West End.
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 6:51 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Fifth Third Bank announced it will invest up to $20 million into Historic West End.

The money will go toward lending, investments, and philanthropic support that includes grants for neighbors on the Historic West End.

“Fifth Third has been investing throughout the city,” Fifth Third Mid-Atlantic Region President Lee Fite said. “Throughout the state for many years. We’ve been in the Carolinas for 15 years but last year a group of bankers at our bank that focused on our community economic development started talking to the executive team about how can we make a more targeted - more concerted effort at a neighborhood level.”

The neighborhood-level philosophy is what leaders at Fifth Third Bank are interested in.

“If you look at this literally at a neighborhood level,” Fite said. “Things like - is there access to fresh food? Is there access to healthcare? Affordable housing is something we have focused on in the Charlotte area for a long time but what about small businesses - what about revitalization - what about teaching people how to budget. Teaching people how to prepare to be successful and that requires a lot of partnership.”

Ralphine Caldwell is with LISC Charlotte. That non-profit will partner with Historic West End and Fifth Third to come up with a plan for the best use of the money.

“We are going to have a plan,” Caldwell said. “And when we finish and complete that plan we are going to have key metrics that we are going to measure - such as how many businesses are still at this point. How did they grow from the time that we started with them to now? How many homeowners do we have that were living in their homes at the time that we started this program that still continue to live in their homes? How many seniors do we have that already have their wills done - has their estate planning and all of that complete throughout the whole corridor.”

Caldwell has been in touch with the community and says this change is what neighbors and business owners have been looking for.

“They are incredibly excited as well,” Caldwell said. “One of the things we want to make sure from this initiative is that it is driven by the community and that’s what makes this initiative very unique. It is what we consider place-based initiative and what that means is - go into the community you talk to the community. You let the community drive what they would like to see in the community - not Fifth Third or LISC say what needs to happen in the community.”

Fifth Third says this is hard work but it won’t stop them from investing. Charlotte is one of nine neighborhood programs Fifth Third has invested in. The other communities are located in Avondale, Cincinnati - South Chicago, Illinois - Buckeye Cleveland - East Tampa, Florida - Grove Park, Georgia - Arlington Woods, Indianapolis - Near East Side, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky.

Fifth Third says Charlotte starting the vision on the corridor made this investment possible.

“Part of what made this so attractive,” Fite said. “Is I think for both of us the city provided strategic framework. There were corridors we knew the city needed to invest in. We knew there were opportunities to improve lives...knowing that there was already that infrastructure in place and partners - that made it attractive because that increases the likelihood of a very successful outcome and selfishly - we want to be able to do more of this.”

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