SunTrust, BB&T plan parting gifts to their hometowns

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If all goes as planned for BB&T and SunTrust Banks, they will soon merge and call a new city home. In the meanwhile, they're trying to leave things on a good note with their current headquarters cities.

The $220 billion-asset SunTrust said Wednesday that it plans to donate $300 million over a three-year period to local charities in Atlanta. Also Wednesday, the $228 billion-asset BB&T announced it will donate about $18 million in the Piedmont Triad area, which includes its hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C.

SunTrust’s future donations will combine community development investments from the bank and philanthropic grants from the SunTrust Foundation.

“SunTrust is doubling its community investment in Atlanta, demonstrating that our commitment to our current home market is strong now and will remain so following our proposed merger with BB&T,” Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers said in a news release.

BB&T says it will focus its giving on affordable housing, workforce and economic development, financial wellness, health and human services and access to arts programs.

“Our growth has been fueled by the support of this region, so we believe in strongly supporting this region in return,” J. Cantey Alexander, president of BB&T's Triad region, said in a separate news release.

SunTrust and BB&T expect to complete their merger in the late third quarter or early fourth quarter. The new company, which has yet to be named, will move its headquarters to Charlotte, N.C.

This year, the SunTrust Foundation made a $5 million grant to the Westside Future Fund in Atlanta for affordable-housing and small-business projects. SunTrust did not specify the additional Atlanta-area charities or types of projects that will receive its additional donations, but SunTrust has previously given money for affordable housing projects for senior citizens, to build a new facility for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and to construct a new headquarters and childhood-learning facility for the YMCA of Metro Atlanta.

BB&T’s past donations include gifts to Habitat for Humanity, to the Piedmont Land Conservatory for protecting natural areas from development, and to Bennett College, a historically black college for women in Greensboro, N.C.

In the past, SunTrust and BB&T have made some of their donations using tax-advantaged investments like new markets tax credits and low-income housing tax credits.

Other large banks have also recently tinkered with their strategies for charitable giving. Wells Fargo said on Tuesday that it will place a greater emphasis on donating to affordable-housing projects. Last month, JPMorgan Chase said it will give $125 million over five years to improve financial health in underserved communities.

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Affordable housing Financial literacy Philanthropy CRA M&A Regional banks Tax credits SunTrust BB&T
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