(ESSEX COUNTY, NJ) – On December 1, 2020, the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders virtually held the 2020 Bank Review Program Committee Meeting. During the meeting, representatives from various banks appeared before the Board to provide specific details on the programs they employ to help residents and communities throughout the county. The meeting was chaired by District 3 Freeholder Tyshammie L. Cooper, and was attended by District 2 Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson, District 1 Freeholder Robert Mercado, District 5 Freeholder Carlos Pomares, Freeholders At-Large Patricia Sebold and Rufus Johnson, as well as County Administrator Robert Jackson and representatives from the Essex County Administration.

Prior to the meeting, in compliance with a 2015 Ordinance [authored by former Freeholder President and current NJ State Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake] establishing Essex County’s Banking Community Reinvestment Act Review Program, all financial institutions that receive county funds are required to submit their annual Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Data Submissions and CRA rating to the Board for review. The CRA report is used to assess a bank's record of providing service and lending activities to the community. The intent of the Banking Review Program Committee is to encourage meaningful community reinvestment by the County’s financial institutions. Representatives from Provident Bank, TD Bank, Valley National Bank, Industrial Bank, PNC Bank, Investors Bank, Garden State Community Bank, and Wells Fargo attended the Zoom meeting and answered direct questions from the Board regarding their specific efforts to help the County’s small business and low-to-moderate income communities.

“I was pleased with the banks and the information they presented.” Committee Chair Freeholder Cooper stated. “The programs discussed - such as deferring interest and loan payments to businesses and residents suffering from financial hardship due to COVID-19, and even implementing processes for loan forgiveness – provided the Board with the specifics we needed to ensure the banks we utilize are properly servicing our communities.” Freeholder Copper continued, “Each institution provided services that were unique to their organization. Some committed to lending policies mandating that a majority of their loans go to underserved communities, whereas others work with third party organizations to provide proprietary financing for small businesses. In each instance, their answers showed they are making an effort to assist the residents of Essex County.”

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Freeholder Vice President Richardson stated, “We appreciate the representatives from the different banking institutions and their responses to our direct questions regarding the financial well-being of the constituents we serve. We asked for examples of programs and initiatives they have put in place to help with a wide array of services from financial literacy to veteran homelessness. They were honest and forthcoming and gave examples such as donating to food banks, helping to clean up and rebuild downtown commercial districts, and offering to invest immediately in any projects designed to provide housing for veterans in need.”

Edited by TAPinto EO/O Editor to provide historical context to the 2015 ordinance. 

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