NationsBank Corp. and the NAACP have unveiled a $1.1 million pilot program to establish community development offices that will promote lending to minorities and small businesses in several states.
NationsBank is the company formed by the merger of NCNB Corp. and C&S/Sovran Corp., effective Dec. 31. The first five Community Development Resource Centers, to be staffed by the NAACP, will be in Austin, Texas; Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Columbia,S.C.; and Richmond, Va. NationsBank will be based in Charlotte.
The centers will open in early 1992 to provide consumer business education and counseling, economic development advocacy and technical assistance. Products and services will include consumer loan counseling, loan packaging, education programs for high school students, corporate credit policy analysis and minority business development.
Bank and NAACP officials, who made the joint announcement in Atlanta, said the program will be evaluated in two years and, if successful, will probably be expanded to other states the bank serves, including Maryland.
"In a sense this represents a new frontier," Benjamin Hooks, executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said of the cooperative venture. He said the program will offer blacks a chance "to become fully involved in the business of America."
By using NAACP staffers, Hooks said, the centers should help the bank foster strong identification at the community level, and ease fears of any new and unfamiliar programs.
Bennett Brown, chairman of NationsBank, said that the first-of-its-kind project is the initial step in implementing the bank's commitment in August to invest at least $10 billion over a 10-year period in minority communities.
The action is part of an effort by the merging banks to meet federal Community Reinvestment Act requirements. The 1977 law requires federally insured financial institutions to make an extra effort to meet credit needs of minorities.
Both NCNB and C&S's lending records to minorities were criticized earlier this year in testimony to banking regulators during the merger hearings. The Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank, approved the merger on Nov. 29.