Urban League Now Home To Simmons Bank Branch

In addition, the branch’s construction included sizeable minority business participation.

The $2 million, 2,600 square-foot branch is located on the first floor of the building and offers a range of banking products and services, including a drive-through banking lane and ATM with deposit capabilities.

In addition, the branch’s construction included sizeable minority business participation.

It was designed and built by minority-owned businesses Grice Group Architects and Kwame Building Group. The Grice Group Architects also designed the Centene Ferguson Training Facility in collaboration with The Urban League and Centene Corporation.

Kwame Building Group also constructed the 13,500-square-foot Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson in partnership with the Urban League in 2017.

TD4 Electrical and other African-American-owned companies played prominent roles in the project.

 “The staff of the branch is also 100% African American. This is an example of St. Louis doing it the right way,” McMillan said.

Mayor Tishaura Jones said the Simmons Bank branch is part of the continued effort to spread financial and economic empowerment opportunities, including retail banking for residents, to the city’s north side.

“Thank you, Michael, for continuing to deliver,” she said of McMillan and the Urban League’s focus on empowerment.

Before the opening, there was a four-mile stretch along Kingshighway from Vandeventer Avenue on the south to Natural Bridge Avenue on the north, without a bank branch.

“Locating the branch at our headquarters is a significant step in helping serve the under-banked residents and small businesses, especially those along the Kingshighway corridor,” McMillan said.

Allan Ivie, Simmons Bank Regional Trust president, and Urban League board member noted the special partnership between the Urban League and the bank.

It includes Simmons Bank financing the purchase of the former Sears Building in 2020, its transformation into the Urban League headquarters, and providing seed money for the Save Our Sons/Save Our Sisters initiatives.

Shortly after, Simmons Bank approached the Urban League about the addition of a branch at this location, and the project came to fruition.

Simmons Bank also presented the Urban League with a $50,000 donation in conjunction with their Restoring Hope Capital Campaign. Restoring Hope is raising funds to “establish an accessible hub for programs and services that foster continual self-improvement, vibrant neighborhoods, and equitable opportunity for all,” according to the Urban League website.

“We truly care about the communities where we operate, and the Urban League is the most effective organization in the St. Louis area,” Ivie said.

State Sen. Karla May called the branch opening “an extraordinary moment in history.”

“It’s important that [Simmons Bank] is helping get individuals in the community not only into banking, but also all the financial products you offer including small business loans.”

While there were no bank branches in the area, Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard reminded the audience that “an institution that took advantage of the community with predatory lending” had been in operation.

“This is truly restorative economic development. Simmons Bank, you are showing people [you are sincere].

McMillan said St. Louis is “grappling with how to include Black-owned and female owned business into the business community.”

“We can be the Atlanta of the Midwest. As the mayor said, poverty is the father of crime. Give people a decent paying job and upward mobility and they will not end up on the way to prison.”

McMillan said the branch wants to reach $30 million in deposits and called on the community to do its part to reach that financial investment – and he launched the effort by opening a new account moments before a ribbon was cut and the branch officially opened for business.

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