MINNEAPOLIS - A Minneapolis woman wants to revitalize the economy in north Minneapolis by opening a black-owned credit union. And Me’Lea Connelly and members of the local organization, Blexit, are close to accomplishing that goal by 2019.
Blexit applied for grant money to open their own credit union in Minnesota. They've already secured startup money and are entering the next phase, which includes applying for a charter application with the National Credit Union Association.
Connelly says the nonprofit stemmed from the killing of Philando Castile. That is when she and other concerned Twin Cities residents formed the community organization, Blexit. It is an organization aimed at cultivating economic civil resistance. After several community meetings open to the public, Me’Lea Connelly said it was clear members of the community wanted to focus on black banking.
Currently, there are only two banks in north Minneapolis, according to Connelly. She calls north Minneapolis a "banking desert" because people don't have access to checking accounts or pathways to manage their money.
“They are going to these payday lenders instead," she said from her office on the 1200 block of Broadway. "In this neighborhood you practically can't throw a rock without hitting a payday lender. They are cash checking outfits and are extremely predatory. I say predatory because their target market is poor people. Black poor people, especially in north Minneapolis, are the last people that can afford to pay a 200-percent interest rate on a payday loan, and it puts people in extreme debt."
The black-owned credit union will be the first of its kind in the state. USA Today reports there are 27 black-owned banks in the nation. But a credit union offers something unique.
“It is owned by the members," Connelly said. "They chose the services, the products, the board, and the whole focus around the credit union is a mission. What are we here to accomplish?” Connelly said. “A bank is a for-profit corporation. The goal of a bank is to make money. The people who benefit are going to be CEOs and their shareholders. We want north Minneapolis and our membership to have an ownership of the entity that is caring for their money. That is the difference between a bank and a credit union.”
Members of the community will decide the name of the credit union. To learn more, visit http://www.abepmn.org/about.