Protest over Jefferson Bank merger yields new branches

Illinois-based First Mid Bank & Trust has agreed to operational improvements, including making small business loan subsidies and establishing branches in underserved areas, in response to criticism that threatened to derail its proposed merger with Jefferson Bank and Trust. Advocacy groups, including St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA) and Woodstock Institute, last year complained to the Federal Reserve Bank of redlining and low levels of service to Black borrowers by First Mid.  The advocates asked the Fed to block the proposed bank merger and alleged the bank was failing to comply with fair lending laws and the Community Reinvestment Act. Those groups now have entered into a Community Benefits Agreement with the bank which they say will “clear the way” for the merger  with Jefferson Bank and Trust – known to many St. Louis residents as the focus of civil-rights era protests over discrimination in hiring.

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