Michigan will receive the lion’s share of Huntington Bank’s recent $20 billion pledge to its seven-state footprint, and the bank’s West Michigan region president sees it as a fitting move given the level of need.
Huntington Bancshares Inc., parent of Huntington National Bank, this month announced it was making a $20 billion, five-year capital commitment across its seven-state footprint of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. About $5 billion of that sum will go to Michigan, which has the largest number of Huntington branches compared to the other states.
The $20 billion Community Plan includes lending, investment and philanthropic commitments to help improve financial opportunities for businesses, consumers and communities.
The Michigan plan was developed in cooperation with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and various Michigan community organizations to ensure the bank’s commitment “reflects the needs of all people and businesses throughout the state,” the bank said. Huntington announced the investment in a joint press conference with Whitmer on Sept. 1.
“This is great news for Michigan’s small business owners who have faced unprecedented challenges as we have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic over the past six months,” Whitmer said. “These are Michiganders who have spent their lives building their businesses and who need our help now more than ever. I am proud to work with Huntington Bank as they continue to provide support to our small business owners and build strong communities in our state, and I’m committed to continue working on behalf of small business owners as we fight back against COVID-19.”
Sandy Pierce — Huntington’s director of private banking, insurance agency, vehicle finance and regional banking — said the bank has a responsibility to build on its past investments during a time of increased need.
“In this critical time when businesses are confronting the extreme challenge of a public health crisis, recession and issues related to social equity, Huntington’s purpose of looking out for people calls us to do more for Michigan’s small businesses, consumers and communities,” she said.
“We believe this commitment is a very meaningful investment in Michigan’s economic future. Michigan’s rural small businesses and urban micro businesses have been especially hard hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on Michigan’s economy, and minority- and women-owned businesses throughout the state are seeking opportunities to stabilize and thrive. Our commitment to Michigan’s small businesses reflects the role they play in driving the state’s economy and the foundation they provide for our economic health.”
During the next several months, the bank will announce specific initiatives to support small businesses, consumers and communities. The plan will evolve as Huntington continues to listen and take action to meet the changing needs of Michigan’s communities.
John Irwin, Huntington’s West Michigan region president, said the bank already conducted extensive listening sessions over the past few months in various parts of the state to learn how it could have the biggest impact, and the resulting plan will not be a “cookie-cutter” approach. Although the organizations Huntington will work with to carry out its initiatives have not been named, he said it will be a blend of nonprofits and economic and workforce development organizations already working in the targeted areas of impact.
Huntington’s 2020 Community Plan will include investments in the following areas:
- Access to capital: Huntington is investing in small businesses with a special emphasis on those owned by people of color, women and veterans. The bank’s commitment to helping businesses will be bolstered by additional investments in business planning and educational programs to help bring business owners the relief, recovery and growth they are seeking.
- Affordable housing and homeownership: Huntington will expand lending programs and educational services to support increased homeownership for minority and low- to moderate-income borrowers throughout the Midwest. The bank will seek to enable greater opportunities for first-time home buyers, improve housing security for financially distressed consumers and create generational wealth building through homeownership. It also is designed to enable home rehabilitation and the refinancing of existing homes to unlock the cashflow needs of borrowers.
- Community lending and investment: Huntington acknowledges barriers to banking still exist for some people and businesses, and the bank is committing itself to investments in affordable housing, food security, workforce development and social equity — areas the bank believes are “fundamental” to helping people reach economic security and begin to thrive.
Irwin said this five-year Community Plan builds on Huntington’s $16 billion, five-year Community Development Plan launched in 2017, which was completed nearly two years ahead of schedule.
“We asked ourselves and our colleagues and our community partners, ‘What can we do to continue this momentum?’ And these were the areas that they asked us to focus on,” Irwin said. “We really want to help build basic economic security to help people prosper in our communities.”
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said he believes this commitment represents “a more deliberate approach” to investing in the people and businesses that will have the greatest impact in the Michigan market.
“I’m excited to see how we can build upon this partnership with Huntington Bank to advance equity in economic growth to ensure that new doors are open to a more diverse group of entrepreneurs at every stage of their business,” Gilchrist said.
Hector Hernandez, executive director of Southwest Economic Solutions in the Detroit area, said he believes Huntington’s commitment will be welcome news for struggling families.
“The health and economic crises are disproportionately harming minority communities because of structural inequities in opportunity,” he said. “Huntington’s Community Plan takes aim at these inequities by strategically investing in entrepreneurship, homeownership, job training and financial education so that families can build wealth and brighter economic futures.”
More information about Huntington’s $20 billion commitment is at huntington.com/community/community-plan.