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Bank, to have bilingual staff, will be first in metro Milwaukee ethnic supermarket
MILWAUKEE – North Shore Bank today announced it will build a full-service branch inside the El Rey Nana’s Market Mexican Grocery store at 1433 W. Burnham. The branch is the first bank branch to be located in a metro Milwaukee ethnic supermarket and is part of North Shore Bank’s ongoing effort to provide new services and improve access to banking opportunities for the area’s Latino residents.
Construction on the in-store branch, subject to approval by the federal Office of Thrift Supervision, is scheduled to begin in April and the branch is expected to open in June, said Stephen J. Steiner, the bank’s senior vice president – Retail Banking. The El Rey branch will be the bank’s 18th in metro Milwaukee and 40th statewide.
“North Shore Bank has always worked hard to provide services at the communities we serve,” Steiner said. “The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Hispanics are the largest single ethnic minority in the United States, yet according to a recent nationwide survey of Latinos, one-third of the country’s Hispanic households have no bank account. Our goal is to reach out to this vibrant segment of our population, provide financial education and services to make them more comfortable with the U.S. banking system, and help them achieve the financial goals they have for themselves and their families.”
Staff at the El Rey branch will speak both English and Spanish, Steiner said, and the branch will be open seven days a week. Customers will be able to take care of all of their banking needs, including checking and savings, home equity and home mortgages and investment services. The branch will also have an ATM and a community room available for seminars, financial counseling and as a gathering spot for neighborhood groups.
“For more than 25 years, we have worked hard to establish our supermarkets as important community centers for metro Milwaukee’s Latino population, and adding a full-service bank branch will allow us to serve our customers even better,” said Beto Villarreal of El Rey. “We are pleased to be working with North Shore Bank, which has a demonstrated commitment to providing financial services and education to the Latino community. This partnership will make it easier than ever for local Hispanic residents to access and benefit from the U.S. banking system.”
The El Rey branch is the latest in a series of banking initiatives North Shore Bank has launched specifically to address the needs of Hispanic consumers. In 2002, North Shore Bank became the first Wisconsin-based financial institution to accept matricula consular IDs, which are issued by the Mexican government to immigrants who typically don’t have Social Security cards or other documents often required as proof of identity.
Customers with consular IDs can open special Matricula checking and savings accounts, which include free financial training sessions developed by the bank and the UW Extension. Account holders are also issued two ATM cards, one of which can be sent to family in Mexico and used to access funds at ATMs there at a much lower costs than other methods such as wire transfers.
The bank has also joined with the Mexican Consulate in Chicago to sponsor a number of matricula consular registration drives in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Thousands of Mexican immigrants have applied for and received the IDs through the bank-sponsored drives, and additional drives are planned in 2004.
In addition to its matricula consular efforts, North Shore Bank offers a number of other services to Hispanic customers, including customized loan and other products that help break down barriers to homeownership and financial independence, Spanish-language telephone banking and bilingual option ATMs. The bank has bilingual staff in nine of its locations, has developed free Spanish-language homebuyer seminars, offers Spanish-speaking mortgage loan officers and sponsors and participates in a number of Latino community events.
Maria Monreal-Cameron, president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, said the El Rey branch is another significant milestone in the bank’s efforts to reach out to the local Hispanic population.
“The last Census showed that Wisconsin’s Latino population more than doubled between 1990 and 2000,” she said. “The number of Hispanic residents in our region is growing at an extremely fast pace, and North Shore Bank is to be commended for its efforts to reach out to this important and influential group. The buying power of the 38.5 million Hispanics in the United States is estimated at nearly $600 billion, and increasing accessibility to banking opportunities is good not only for the Hispanic community, but also for Milwaukee, for Wisconsin and for the country as a whole.”
North Shore Bank, headquartered in Brookfield, was founded in 1923 and has assets of $1.7 billion. In addition to branches in metro Milwaukee, current branches are located in Pewaukee, Racine, Union Grove, Kenosha, Burlington, Green Bay, Appleton, Menasha, Howard, Pulaski, De Pere, Algoma, Two Rivers and Door County. The bank recently began construction in Oak Creek on its 41st branch, which is expected to open later this fall.