Chemical Bank’s mobile center has a dozen workstations where visitors can interact with bank personnel. Courtesy Chemical Bank
Chemical Bank, a division of TCF National Bank, is on a bus tour throughout the region.
The bank launched the Mobile Empowerment Center, which is a 40-foot retrofitted bus that travels across Michigan, Ohio and Indiana to help residents, including nonmembers and consumers, with their finances. The mobile center will be making some of its final stops at nonprofit organizations in Grand Rapids, Holland and Muskegon during the last week of August.
Since the MEC began June 3, the bank has assisted over 1,200 residents in 25 cities. The bus has 12 workstations with a laptop where bank representatives can help residents with free access to their credit reports, counseling by loan officers regarding mortgage and retail finance. Residents also can apply for jobs that are available at different Chemical Bank branches in the region.
Emmanuel Glover, Chemical Bank’s senior vice president, corporate director of community development and Community Reinvestment Act officer, said the Mobile Empowerment Center is a part of the bank’s overarching theme of its financial, inclusion and wellness program, which was established based on the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act.
“It has held banks accountable for providing access to credit in our low- and moderate-income communities,” Glover said. “We are measured against our ability to create lending opportunities for our low- and moderate-income clients. We are tasked with making sure that we are providing mortgage loans, consumer loans such as home equity loans for home improvement, which gets measured and tracked from a regulatory perspective. We are tasked with providing small business loans, and for us, we deem small business as any business owners whose revenue size is under $1 million, and that is from a regulatory perspective.
“On a larger scale, we have community development loans. If large organizations and corporations are able to prove that through receiving a loan from a bank is either going to revitalize or stabilize a community or provide economic development in a community, then we can qualify our activities as community development and we can share that with our regulators, as well.”
Holland Rescue Mission, Muskegon Covenant Academy, Home Repair Services of Kent County, Community Action House and Hispanic Business Center of West Michigan will be providing on-site locations for MEC, but the bank also serves some of the clients of those organizations.
Glover said there are four strategic priorities they work on with nonprofit organizations. He said those areas are affordable housing, including how to become renters, homeowners, purchase or refinance, and preventing foreclosure.
The second area is working with organizations that promote workforce development through workshop programs that include résumé writing, interviewing clinics and work referral programs.
The third priority is working with nonprofit organizations that have outreach programs that support economic development, including bringing new businesses or relocating companies into the region.
The fourth area is education by partnering with nonprofits that work to improve the high school graduation rate in the urban and rural areas by offering before- and after-school programs.
In addition to MEC, Glover said Chemical’s financial, inclusion and wellness program includes working with Junior Achievement to facilitate workshops on budgeting, savings and credit repayment.
MEC’s West Michigan stops
Aug. 26: 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
Covenant Academy Back to School Block Party
125 Catherine Ave., Muskegon
Aug. 27: noon-6 p.m.
Holland Rescue Mission
661 East 24th St., Holland
Aug. 28: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Grand Rapids Urban League
745 Eastern Ave. SE, Grand Rapids
Aug. 29: 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Home Repair Services of Kent County
1100 Division Ave. South, Grand Rapids
Aug. 30: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Community Action House
345 West 14th St., Holland