Another CDFI in Northern Louisiana combating small town poverty
Cross Keys Bank is an institution very similar to Bank of Montgomery, the bank we featured earlier this week. They’re both CDFIs in Louisiana, a state with one of the highest rates of poverty in the country, and both banks have been well-established in their towns for over a century. Additionally, both expanded into other parts of Northern Louisiana following the closing of smaller institutions during the last part of the 20th century.
We would like to understand what allowed two such similar banks to flourish in approximately the same area, while other local institutions failed, but we don’t know. What we do know is that Cross Keys has been a solid community banking option for a long time, and that banking institutions like Cross Keys and BOM play a huge role in keeping small town economies functional, especially in a state that’s been struggling with high rates of poverty since the Civil War.
In fact, on their website, Cross Keys attributes the early success of the bank as a large part of the reason their small, agricultural hometown of St. Joseph was able to grow and prosper, even through the Depression era. Of course, being established this far back in the deep south implies that this bank and its board members most likely supported the widespread segregation and infringement of the rights of black people, especially in Louisiana where black individuals were disenfranchised by state laws in 1898. However, we hope that this town has fully left this local dark history in the past and has fully invested in black communities in the towns and cities they work in, as most of these places have majority black populations.
Another similarity between Cross Keys and Bank of Montgomery is that they’re both known for their exceptional customer service, personalized to each of their members. In their “about us” section of their website, Cross Keys describes their goal to be to foster the economic success of every one of their customers, and they apparently do this well, as their Facebook page is full of positive reviews.
Although they don’t do a huge amount of housing lending, it makes up 25% of their lending, and 50% of this is devoted to low- and moderate-income households. They’ve got a positive return on assets as well as a satisfactory CRA rating, and with a net loans to deposits ratio of 85%; it’s clear they’re an effective Better Banking Option as well as a safe one. Fifteen percent of their lending is devoted to small business lending, and an additional 2.1% is devoted to small farm loans, and in the small towns and cities they work in, both kinds of lending are essential to building a healthy local economy.
As they offer both online and mobile banking options, we would recommend this Better Banking Option to anyone looking to invest in small towns and cities in Northern Louisiana. Check out their website today.