By First Merchants—
Amendments help provide stronger positive impact across the communities it serves
MUNCIE, IN – First Merchants Bank recently revised its Community Benefits Agreement to better expand and reflect its positive community impact goals as a corporation. The prior Community Benefits Agreement was unveiled in June of 2020, and this revision represents a significant advancement in the magnitude of the financial benefits across the communities served by First Merchants. The commitments are extended to all regional markets in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan.
“The updates will strengthen First Merchants’ role as an attentive and active partner in the communities that it serves, benefiting businesses and consumers,” said Mark Hardwick, CEO of First Merchants. “Because of our commitment to these initiatives, we are helping to enhance the financial wellness of the diverse communities we serve, especially among businesses and consumers who have been historically underserved by the financial sector.”
The revision process included collaboration with National Community Reinvestment Coalition, its members and other local community partners.
“This significant expansion of First Merchants’ commitments to its communities shows the good that can come about when a bank listens to the people it serves and takes their ideas and concerns to heart,” NCRC President and CEO Jesse Van Tol said. “First Merchants has been a strong, engaged partner throughout this process, just as they were in our initial conversations in 2020. This new expansion on that previous agreement will bring large amounts of thoughtfully targeted capital to bear on the redevelopment, homeownership expansion and local economic growth needs in communities served by First Merchants across the Midwest.”
Leaders at First Merchants point to the bank’s brand promise and Vision as their “north star” for being attentive to the needs of its communities by consistently and genuinely helping businesses and consumers in those communities prosper.
“Our ‘listen first’ approach is different from other banks. We are fortunate to have strong relationships with the NCRC and its partners to guide us in identifying gaps and proactively engaging with our diverse communities and employees to learn what is important to them and how we can help. This collaborative process allows us to improve our services and meet the needs of our diverse communities where our impact matters most,” said Scott McKee, Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at First Merchants.
The update to First Merchants Bank’s Community Benefits Agreement was initiated by the acquisition of Level One Bank on April 1, 2022. The acquisition increased First Merchants’ asset size by about $2.4 billion. In this updated Community Benefits Agreement, First Merchants is expanding its commitments from $1.4 billion to $1.97 billion.
The goals include mortgage lending to low-to moderate-income (LMI) borrowers and communities, small business lending in LMI and rural communities, community development lending and investments, philanthropy and community engagement, and banking center distribution and access.
First Merchants’ latest initiatives attentively help community members prosper throughout their financial journey. They include an innovative home improvement loan product aimed at creating more opportunities for home improvement financing and the national Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s certification of First Merchants Simple Access checking as a safe, affordable account. In addition, First Merchants recently launched a financial wellness program to provide financial education and powerful planning tools to customers as well as access to one-on-one guidance from welcoming, dependable, and attentive bankers. For example, in April 2022, First Merchants opened a banking center in the Northland neighborhood of Columbus Ohio, focused on helping revitalize that community by increasing financial wellness, supporting greater access to home ownership, and facilitating economic growth and vitality in the area.
First Merchants looks forward to using the amended Community Benefits Agreement to better help its communities prosper in a very direct and attentively involved way.
About First Merchants Corporation
First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ: FRME), with assets of more than $18 billion and operating in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan, is the parent company of First Merchants Bank. The Muncie, Indiana-based bank is committed to providing exceptional financial services while making meaningful contributions in each community it serves. First Merchants Bank promotes economic mobility through its five community pillars: Employee Empowerment; Community Investments and Charitable Giving; Financial Wellness; Community Home Lending; and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The company has been honored for its excellence in banking by Forbes, Newsweek and S&P Global Intelligence and attributes this recognition to a mission-driven team passionate about attentively helping you prosper. To see how First Merchants Bank is making a difference, go to (www.firstmerchants.com).