BayBank Boston has opened a unique office in Boston's inner-city Dorchester neighborhood that is meant to do triple duty as a branch, community center, and bank recruitment office.

The bank plans to recruit for the entire BayBanks Inc. system from the branch and make its conference center available to neighborhood businesses and community groups. Baybank also will present banking seminars for area residents.

"Bankers need to become part of their communities and be a catalyst for building strength," said Grady Hedgespeth, the regional president of BayBank Boston.

"The bank itself should be a resource."

Last Saturday's branch opening is part of the bank's Neighborhood Banking initiative.

Introduced in January 1990 in response to a landmark report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on mortgage lending discrimination by area banks, the initiative called for BayBanks to install 25 ATMs and build five branches in Boston's minority neigborhoods.

A Response to Bias Report

The new Dorchester office is the third branch to be opened as part of the program. It will will be staffed by several senior managers, including Mr. Hedgespeth.

A former director of government and community affairs for Bank of Boston, he joined BayBanks in December to help implement the Neighborhood Banking strategy.

Among other projects associated with the plan is a new "neighborhood credit card."

Designed for people with no credit history, the card is offered to applicants who have been employed for six months and who make at least $12,000 a year.

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