In a move intended to clear up confusion about its name, Dime Community Bancorp has become Dime Community Bancshares. The Brooklyn, N.Y., holding company, parent of Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg, is cursed with a name that is, well, a dime a dozen in the Northeast. Dime Savings Bank of New York is also based in the Big Apple, and Dime Financial Corp. has its headquarters in Wallingford, Conn. The company has also changed its stock symbol to DCOM from DIME.

So how will going from Bancorp to Bancshares help eliminate confusion surrounding Dime? Kenneth A. Ceonzo, vice president for investor relations at the $1.5 billion-asset company, said the name change "might help a little" because it will draw attention to the situation. "And we believe that changing the symbol will help significantly," he added. The new symbol incorporates the thrift's community bank focus, Mr. Ceonzo said. "With DCOM, we are giving more influence to the fact we are a community bank with the Dime name," he said. - Louis Whiteman

First Western Bancorp, New Castle, Pa., is lending a hand to laid-off General Motors workers in western Pennsylvania.

The $1.7 billion-asset company said last week that it would extend or temporarily reduce payments for furloughed employees who have home equity, automobile, or other consumer loans with First Western.

Bank officials said the initiative is designed to preserve customers' credit and help keep them out of dire financial straits. Loans will be worked out on a case-by-case basis with the borrower's payment history taken into consideration. "We're trying to throw out a lifeline to these people and hope we can help," said Richard L. Stover, chief lending officer.

About 8,200 workers have been laid off in the last two weeks from GM's Lordstown, Ohio, complex and Delphi Packard Electric Systems, a GM division nearby. Mr. Stover said the program got an immediate response and a number of loans are being worked out. - Matt Andrejczak

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