Huntington Bancshares in Columbus, Ohio, is significantly raising the ante in philanthropic and community development investments connected to its planned acquisition of FirstMerit.
The $73 billion-asset Huntington on Friday announced it would fund an additional $25 million in grants aimed at improving low-income consumers' access to housing and small-business credit. It plans to spend another $30 million to open 10 branches in minority and low-income communities and create a special mortgage-processing team to handle what it terms "unique" underwriting opportunities.
Huntington is also promising to make $16.1 billion in targeted mortgage, small-business and community development loans to underserved borrowers and communities over the next five years.
The additional commitments are a big step up from its initial promises. When it announced its deal for Akron, Ohio-based FirstMerit in January, Huntington pledged to spend $25 million in philanthropic grants in FirstMerit's major markets: Akron and Canton in Ohio and Flint Mich.
"With the merger of FirstMerit into Huntington, we think it is important to share our intentions in continuing to provide exceptional support and service to the communities where we live and work," Stephen Steinour, Huntington's chairman and chief executive, said in a news release.
It developed the $16.1 billion lending program in conjunction with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
"We commend Huntington for working with local community advocates to reach an agreement that will help many people in working-class communities and communities of color build wealth," NCRC President and CEO John Taylor said in the release. "This plan lays out activities that will produce the kind of significant public benefit that needs to be created when banking institutions merge."