The unfortunate news of the shutdown of Legacy Bank last Friday by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as the receiver was quite a blow to the African American community. On Saturday, FDIC entered into an agreement with Chicago’s Seaway Bank and Trust Company to assume all of the deposits of Legacy Bank.
Common Council president Willie Hines released the following statement regarding the bank closure that is located in his aldermanic district, the 15th. “Legacy Bank has been Milwaukee’s pride and joy for more than a decade, making sound investments in Milwaukee ’s future. Its staff of dedicated employees has created countless opportunities, spurring a can-do spirit of entrepreneurship – not only in the central city, but throughout Milwaukee .”
President Hines added that he believes Legacy Bank made responsible decisions, but that the severe economic recession probably hit Legacy investments harder than those of other banks. “I look forward to partnering with Seaway Bank and Trust,” he said, “and I hope they can continue the challenging-yet-rewarding work that Legacy Bank has begun.”
For Milwaukeeans who may not be familiar with Seaway Bank and Trust Company out of Chicago, here is a quick glimpse of this 46 year old successful African American operated institution.
Seaway is a full-service commercial bank that emphasizes quality service and community commitment. Established in 1965 as Seaway National Bank of Chicago, it was created to counter discriminatory lending practices on Chicago’s South Side. The founders, a group of local businessmen, sold shares door to door throughout the community to raise the $1,000,000 in capital needed to secure the Federal charter. By the end of its first year, Seaway’s assets had climbed to over $5,000,000, and the bank has grown steadily over the years.
It prides itself with its support of numerous churches, schools, and community groups through charitable donations, and thanks to its partnerships with leading corporations, the institution is able to reinvest in the family of its customers and local businesses. The bank’s mission remains dedicated to helping minority professionals and entrepreneurs obtain the financial assistance they need and to be responsive to the credit needs of our community.
At year end 2010, Seaway had more than $548,000,000 in assets and 278 employees. And its loan officers say that they were proud to be an institution that was still lending during the banking crisis over the past few years. Some of the highlights in this bank’s history includes a record of never being in the red since it began. Seaway’s chairman since 1982, Jacoby Dickens credits the banks ability to avoid failure and loss with its commitment to its original mission by doing banking the old fashion way by providing a broad range of financial services to the communities it serves within its market area.
Seaway did not fall prey to the quick money and high interest loans when the market was operating with loose regulations. This institution refused to do interest only loans, statement of income loans that many in the industry call “lie loans”, and they stayed away from risky adjustable rate loans (ARMs) that turn into higher payments after a couple years and often beyond the customer’s ability to keep up with them.
Chairman Dickens told a Chicago Fox News reporter last year that, “What got most banks into trouble was greed, but we do business the old fashion way. And part of that way is maintaining a staff that serves customers face to face, and yes it may cost more to maintain that type of staff, but that is what our customers demand. Many Seaway customers show up at the bank, online banking is not for everyone.”
Seaway stayed its course. Now, Milwaukee will have the opportunity to benefit from this banking institution. If Seaway continues with its business model, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t, former Legacy customers and the that it served community should be in good hands.