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NR 2011-71
Contact: Bryan Hubbard
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Acting Comptroller Walsh Highlights Importance of Minority-Owned Depository Institutions

WASHINGTON — The acting Comptroller of the Currency today highlighted the vital role of minority-owned depository institutions in under-served communities during a speech at the Interagency Minority-Owned Depository Institutions Conference in New York.

"We at the OCC believe in the importance of community banks in general and minority-owned institutions in particular," acting Comptroller John Walsh said.  "Families look to community banks for the credit they need to buy homes and educate their children.  Small businesses, which create most of the new jobs in the United States, depend heavily upon community banks for the funding they need to grow."

Minority-owned banks and thrifts play an even bigger role in their communities because they often operate in under-served areas. "Whether it is the inner city or a struggling rural community, a minority-owned bank or thrift may be the only insured depository institution easily accessible for families to entrust their savings or for a small business to obtain a loan," Mr. Walsh said. "It’s impossible to overstate the importance of an insured depository institution to the economic health of a community."

The acting Comptroller also discussed challenges facing community banks in general and minority-owned banks and thrifts in particular. "Some of the problems you deal with, like recruiting qualified professionals, raising capital, and identifying creditworthy borrowers, are the same challenges faced by all community banks. But they can be even more challenging in the markets you serve and for the services that minority-owned institutions endeavor to provide."

The OCC has a number of programs to assist minority-owned depository institution with identifying and managing these challenges. The agency provides technical assistance through the bank supervision process, workshops held at conferences like the Interagency Minority-Owned Depository Institutions Conference, and workshops held throughout the country for directors of national banks and federal savings associations.

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