What probably will become the first minority-owned bank in Maryland was created in the government councils of local politicians who were looking for something to do with 7 acres of urban-renewal-cleared land.
"We knew the land would make a good commercial district," said Henry Davis, then a councilman, now a restaurant and liquor store owner, and throughout a chief organizer of the bank. "We thought it would be good to have a bank as a nucleus," he said in an interview.
But rather than invite an existing bank into town, Davis and his friends - among them, Decatur W. Trotter, former mayor turned state senator - resolved to open one themselves. That was 3 years ago.
Today the group is in the midst of selling 37,500 common stock shares worth $750,000, which is the amount the State of Maryland and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, say a bank in Glenarden needs to begin. The bank is to be named Prince George's State Bank.
It has taken town's black entrepreneurs longer than any of them had expected to get a bank charter. There have been forms to fill out for the state banking commissioner, for the FDIC and for the state attorney general's office.
"They changed one of the laws on us after we got started," said Davis. The change required that, in the event of an initial bank stock offering, a very detailed prospectus be submittorney general's office."It took us more than a year to finish it," Davis added. "Then weren't sure what they wanted. Many times we sent it (the prospectus) over and they sent it back for something else."
The bank's founders plan to have the necessary cash in hand by December. About half the outstanding shares already have been sold. Davis said he expectes Prince George's will have "a broad ownership," in part because Maryland law stipulates that no indi- vidual can own more than 5 per cent of a bank, in part because many who live or do business in and around Glenarden will recognize the need for a minority-owned bank and , Davis hopes, contribute.
A letter addressed "Dear Friend" and sent this week to hundreds in the Washington area announcing the stock sale plays down the race of the bank organizing company's directors (10 out of 12 are blacks) and plays up their interest in Prince George's County.
"Prince George's State Bank involves a great deal more than Black Pride," said the letter, signed by Nathaniel Williams, a director. "We believe that a minority-owned bank will have a special sensitivity to ambition and aspiration."
State banking officials say they are sympathetic to the establishment of a minority-owned bank in Glenarden. One source in the state banking commissioner's office said field reports on whether the area could support a bank have been "favorable." The fledging bank's won marketing study conducted by a University of Wisconsin researcher in 1974, concluded that some of the all-black neighborhoods in the area were among the most affluent in the country, with the average annual family income level reaching almost $16,000. Three years after the bank opens, its organizers predict Prince George's will have assets totalling $10 million.
A major stumbling block that remains is one that plagues many new banks - finding qualified managers. A chief executive has been picked, though his name is being kept sccret for the time being because he works for another bank . He is white and will be earning $22,000 at Prince George's.
"One of the problems with bigger banks," Davis said, "has been that the small businessman needs maybe $5,000 or $10,000. But the return on these size loans is not great enough for the banks to bother with. Also, you never get a chance to sit down and talk to a senior bank officer. It's always a branch manager, who isn't the one who makes the final decision. At our bank, you'll be able to talk to one of the senior officers."