Fifth Third Bank Breaks Ground On New Beatties Ford Road Branch

Lee Fite, Fifth Third Bank’s regional president in Charlotte, speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony in the city’s West End neighborhood, March 22, 2024. (QCity Metro)

Fifth Third Bank, which has invested more than $20 million to support economic development in Charlotte’s Historic West End, broke ground Friday on a new Beatties Ford Road branch location.

The branch is scheduled to open this fall.

Why it matters: About 72% of the project’s construction dollars will go to minority-owned businesses, according to Fifth Third officials. The project’s general contractor, McFarland Construction, is a Black-owned company based in Charlotte.

Fifth Third is the latest in a growing number of national banks to open locations on Beatties Ford Road. Chase Bank, TD Bank and Bank of America each has a branch within three blocks of Fifth Third’s new location.

Lee Fite, Fifth Third’s regional president in Charlotte, said the Cincinnati, Ohio-based bank had wanted a West End Branch for more than a decade.

“For those of us who have called Charlotte home, you don’t have a neighborhood with a richer history than what you find here in the West End, Fite told QCity Metro. “It is a real source of pride for our team to finally have this come into fruition.”

In 2021, with the nation still reeling from the effects of pandemic lockdowns and widespread protests related to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Fifth Third announced that it would invest $180 million in nine low-income communities “that have experienced disinvestment.” Historic West End was among the communities chosen under the bank’s Empowering Black Futures Neighborhood Program, which seeks to drive economic mobility.

The bank announced in November 2023 that it had exceeded its three-year, $180 million commitment and would extend the program through 2025.

Fite said the bank’s Beatties Ford Road branch is in addition to Fifth Third’s $20 million commitment to the West End. Much of that money has gone to support affordable housing, Black-owned businesses and community-based grants.

At the West End groundbreaking, the bank announced a $10,000 gift to West Charlotte High School, where Fifth Third has sponsored an internship program that focuses on workforce development, notably construction and financial services.

Also read: Fifth Third Bank’s 53 Ideas competition supports entrepreneurs with capital & training

Fite said selecting a Black-owned construction firm to build the Beatties Ford branch was “part of the commitment” Fifth Third made to Historic West End.

“If we’re going to come into a majority-Black community and we say we’re going to make an investment that the neighbors are telling us is important to them…what better way to say we hear you and we want to be a part of the community than to make sure that the prime contractor is a black-owned contractor and the majority of the subs he is using for the project are also going to be black-owned.”

Fite said the Beatties Ford branch is part of a larger effort to expand Fifth Third’s footprint in Southeastern states. In the last four years, he said, the number of Fifth Third branches in North and South Carolina has more than doubled, with new branches in the Charleston area and in Greenville-Spartanburg.

“Look at where people are moving to,” Fite said. “It’s not just Charlotte but throughout the Southeast and the Carolinas. We are a beneficiary of that.”

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Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer. More by Glenn H. Burkins

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