In a meeting yesterday with 11 presidents of minority banks, President Carter pledged to increase federal deposits in such institutions to $100 million by the end of this year.He added, "My guess is we'll exceed" (that goal).
Under the Minority Bank Deposit program, the amount of federal funds grew from $3.7 million in 1970 to $89 million last May. Since then deposits in 81 banks controlled by Afro, Asian or Hispanic-Americans and women, have dropped to $86 million.
In an April 8 memorandum to all departments and agencies, Mr. Carter urged officials to "make every possible effort, within the constraints of good cash management, to locate deposits under your control. . . in minority banks." Yesterday he also said that Martha (Bunny) Mitchell, his special assistant for minority affairs, would act as liaison between these banks and the Treasury and Commerce Departments.
For their part, some of the bankers agreed to support the President's energy program by offering lower interest rates on loans for fuel-efficient ears and on well-insulated homes.
The 11 presidents are members of the National Bankers Association, a trade group representing 153 minority banks. Notably absent was an official of the Diplomat National Bank, which had participated in preliminary discussions. Diplomat's chairman Charles C. Kim resigned late Wednesday as the result of inquiries about the source of funds he used to purchase bank stock.
Among these present was Lynn Salvage, recently appointed president of The First Women's Bank in New York. When Salvage took over in February the bank had effectively been without a president for seven months. Deposits remained virtually stagnant during that period, the bank ran up an annual operating loss of $938,600, and morale among employees was low. The bank, which was chartered under a feminist banner, suffered from bad publicity when a pregnant employee was fired.
In an interview, Salvage said her first move was to cut costly innovations like a 24-hour teller machine, no return checks (employees ended up manually searching for originals after customers reported carbons were not accepted proofs, and computer statements, in lieu of passbooks. The staff has been severely cut. The operating deficit has been cut to $20,000 a month.