Owning the Skies

It may be No. 5 in terms of assets, but U.S. Bancorp says it's No. 1 in firepower.

In what is being billed as the "largest and longest" fireworks display in all of the Midwest, the bank will sponsor an hourlong fireworks show on July 3 on the shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee for the 36th year in a row.

More than 10,000 pounds of fireworks will be launched from three barges on the lake, with 5,000 igniters lighting more than 20,000 shells. More than eight miles of wire will be strung together, forming a complex electronic system to ensure proper timing of the fireworks.

The event annually draws nearly a million people to the lakefront, the bank said.

Neighborhood Play

As Major League Baseball's All-Star Game approaches, Bank of America Corp. is putting its money where its marketing is.

For every double play made during the game on July 12 in Phoenix, the bank will give $5,000 (with a maximum contribution up to $25,000) to support Back to School Clothing Drive, a local nonprofit that provides new clothing, uniforms and other school supplies to children in need.

Additionally, the bank is encouraging customers and employees to donate school supplies at 120 branch locations in the Phoenix area through July 11. Dubbed "Give Like an All-Star," the campaign is tied to the bank's sponsorship of MLB.

B of A also has pledged more than 1,000 employee volunteer hours to help collect, package and distribute supplies to 140 area schools. The bank has recruited some actual all-stars to assist employee volunteers, including Arizona Diamondbacks' outfielder Chris Young and retired World Series hero Luis Gonzalez.

B of A has worked with Back to School Clothing Drive for nearly a decade and estimates that its support has contributed to the collection of nearly $50,000 of school supplies in the past five years.

Attention! to Vets

The banking industry tried last week to make up for its mistreatment of military customers, which received some deserved bad press.

Some bankers and celebrities helped raised money for veterans at a charity event in New York and held a job fair to help war heroes find jobs on Wall Street.

Among the attendees of the "Veterans on Wall Street" fundraiser on June 23 at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum were: Richard Parsons, chairman of Citigroup Inc.; Seth Waugh, chief executive of Deutsche Bank AG's Americas division; and Marshall Carter, chairman of the NYSE Euronext.

They rubbed shoulders with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, the comedians Freddie Roman and Dick Capri, and musician Eddie Money, who performed his new single "One More Soldier Coming Home."

More than 850 people attended the event, which followed a job fair sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called "Hiring Our Heroes." Credit Suisse Group AG, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and dozens of other financial institutions sought to recruit veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Also hiring at the event: JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The New York banking giant has made several expressions of goodwill toward veterans after the scandal caused by its foreclosure on service members' homes while they were overseas.

Besides an overhaul of its military lending practices, JPMorgan Chase in early June committed $7.5 million to build a veteran center in Syracuse, N.Y. Chairman and Chief Executive Jamie Dimon publicly apologized in May, calling the foreclosures the worst mistake the bank has ever made.

A Synovus Steal

As part of its efforts to jump-start commercial lending, Synovus Financial Corp. of Columbus, Ga., said Thursday it had hired four bankers from units of Capmark Financial Group Inc. to help establish a senior housing group. The group aims to lend to operators of nursing homes and Alzheimer's, convalescent and assisted-living facilities.

The leader of the group is William E. Shine, who joined Synovus last year from guess where? Capmark Finance Inc. His title is director of corporate banking for specialized health care lending.

Joining him are Sarah S. Duggan and John W. Tyson of Capmark Finance, and Malana C. Bryant and Donna C. Phillips of Capmark Bank.

Capmark, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009, submitted a reorganization plan in April to reemerge as a smaller company.

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