Public Meeting Transcripts
Public Meeting Regarding Fleet Financial Group, Inc., and BankBoston Corporation
Wednesday, July 7, 1999
Transcript of Panel Five
21 REV. GOFF: My name is Reverend Norvel 22 Goff, Sr., Pastor of Baber African Methodist 23 Episcopal Church and president of the Greater 24 Rochester NAACP and Chairman of the Black Ministers 25 Alliance. I come here today to support the merger 0128 1 of Fleet-BankBoston, and I'm doing it for a number 2 of reasons: 3 One, based on their commitment to Western 4 New York and other communities in that area. 5 Two, because of their commitment to 6 faith-based lending institutions, which is inclusive 7 of the church. 8 Three, the partnership that has been 9 developed by Fleet Bank as a leader not only in 10 Western New York but New York City and New Jersey 11 and other parts of the country, where they have been 12 very proactive in committing themselves to improving 13 the quality of life. 14 In addition to that, I would like to state 15 here for the record that Fleet Bank in Upstate New 16 York has been a leader in commitment to a program 17 that is called Footprints to Home Ownership, which 18 has allowed first-time homeowners to own their own 19 home and to promote seminars and to teach them the 20 value of owning a home and also to pay the mortgage. 21 I think the relationship as president of the Greater 22 Rochester NAACP, as we look at demographics of the 23 employment track record of Fleet Bank, it shows an 24 inclusive niche of all colors. 25 And finally, let me say this, that Fleet 0129 1 Bank is not about just giving out money, but we have 2 developed a partnership, a partnership where the 3 black church comes with economic stability to 4 provide stability in our various communities. And 5 for that reason, I come on behalf of more than 6 several thousand individuals who are participants in 7 our various organizations to say we support the 8 merger because we think it's good business, good 9 business not only for the churches but good business 10 for the community in which Fleet Bank finds itself. 11 Thank you so much, and I thank my 12 colleagues for letting me cut in line, because I 13 have a one o'clock flight. Thank you so much. 14 (Applause) 15 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Our panelists on 16 this panel have about one minute, which isn't a very 17 long time, but we welcome you. 18 MS. STROM: Thank you. My name is Margo 19 Strom, I am the executive director of Facing History 20 and Ourselves, a national nonprofit educational 21 organization. 22 As you well know, individuals and groups 23 and corporations and communities develop character, 24 they have identities, and they are defined by the 25 choices they make. These choices shape our 0130 1 democratic space. The democratic activity that lies 2 somewhere between government and business is the 3 independent sector, it is the home for nonprofits, 4 and it is that that I represent. 5 It is also the arena where people volunteer 6 and associate, they practice the First Amendment, 7 and it is the avenue for advocacy and outrage, as 8 you have seen here today. It is where we educate 9 people to be democratic to others. We teach about 10 this sector. It focuses on the choices individuals 11 and groups make in history either to promote social 12 justice and tolerance in inclusive democratic 13 societies or to destroy them. 14 For 20 years we have been reaching students 15 across this country, now reaching annually a 16 million. The corporate philanthropy of both 17 BankBoston and Fleet Bank represents a deep 18 commitment to the nonprofit sector. We have not 19 only been a beneficiary of their leadership but 20 witness to the extraordinary impact of their 21 stewardship and investment that has been paid off in 22 the health and vitality and education of the New 23 England community. 24 They lend not only financial backing but 25 time and advice to help leverage their investments. 0131 1 Their support lends credibility, because their 2 reputation as caring corporate partners for 3 nonprofits has become legendary. Our future depends 4 on the commitment the corporate community has to the 5 partnerships with nonprofits. 6 Thank you for this opportunity. 7 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you. 8 (Applause). 9 MS. KORMAN: My same is Nancy Korman, and I 10 chair the Massachusetts Service Alliance. This year 11 we distributed $13 million, $8 million from the 12 federal government and $5 million from the state 13 government. However, we do not operate on 14 government funds alone. We are required by law to 15 develop partnerships with the corporate community. 16 In other words, our success depends upon raising a 17 percentage of matching dollars. 18 So I have gone knocking on the doors of 19 both banks, and if only other corporations were as 20 generous and responsive as both BankBoston and Fleet 21 Bank have been. The money that we raise goes to 22 programs such as Americorps, Youth Build, Jump 23 Start, City Year, ROCA. These are the programs 24 which are the obvious antidote to Littleton, 25 Colorado, to alienated youth, to people who are not 0132 1 on teams. These programs put kids on teams helping 2 other kids. 3 We as an organization are committed to 4 community and the ethic of community service, and we 5 have always had equal and generous help from 6 BankBoston and Fleet. After Colin Powell's 7 Presidential Summit, the two banks equally funded 8 the Massachusetts Summit. This summit helped the 9 Alliance focus attention on the value of community 10 service, particularly as impacts on our youth. I am 11 confident that in the future both banks will not 12 just strengthen their visibility and their financial 13 capabilities but will strengthen their commitment to 14 the entire community. Thank you. (Applause) 15 MS. GUILDERSON: Good morning. My name is 16 Tandeka Guilderson. I'm the director of the Center 17 for Women and Enterprise, Boston office. I am 18 speaking on behalf of Andrea Silbert, the founder 19 and chief executive officer of the Center for Women 20 and Enterprise who has acute laryngitis. 21 The center is a regional nonprofit economic 22 development agency which provides education, 23 training, technical assistance, and access to debt 24 and equity capital to women business owners. The 25 Center For Women and Enterprise is the only women's 0133 1 business development center in the State of 2 Massachusetts. We provide our assistance to women 3 from all socioeconomic backgrounds in all stages of 4 business development spanning the range of women 5 transitioning from public assistance to women who 6 are launching and growing high-tech ventures. 7 We have been very fortunate to have been 8 supported since our founding in 1995 by BankBoston 9 and one year later by Fleet. BankBoston provided 10 CWE with a three-year $150,000 seed grant in 1995 to 11 open our doors. They have since increased that 12 amount to $75,000 per year to include our Worcester 13 office. In addition, last year at the BankBoston 14 Charitable Trust through their new economic 15 development initiative provided us with a three-year 16 grant of $225,000 to develop a special program 17 targeting very low-income women living in Boston's 18 inner city environments. 19 Finally, BankBoston launched their own 20 initiative, the Women Entrepreneurs Connection, to 21 serve as a very important and often neglected 22 market. 23 Fleet has also been a good partner to CWE. 24 Two years ago CWE found a gap in the market 25 assisting women to access equity capital to launch 0134 1 and expand high growth businesses. Fleet provided 2 us with $50,000 to conduct the research on this 3 initiative and then launched the CWE Venture Center 4 at a conference held right here at the Federal 5 Reserve Bank in November of 1998. 6 Since then Fleet has committed another 7 $100,000 to the CWE center. Fleet and BankBoston 8 have shown true interest in the women-owned business 9 market, they have committed to continuing and 10 expanding the Women Entrepreneurs Connection and 11 working with WEC to develop more programs and 12 products to assist this market. In particular, we 13 are eager to work with them to increase seed equity 14 capital and nonconventional loans to women-owned 15 businesses. 16 It is critical that we keep a super bank 17 headquartered in Boston and look forward to working 18 with Fleet Boston to see that the needs of the 19 community are met once these banks merge. Thank you 20 for your time. (Applause) 21 MS. DECEATIS: I am Deborah Deceatis, I am 22 the associate director for Patriots Trail Girl 23 Scouts. Patriots Trail Girl Scouts supports the 24 merger of Fleet Bank and BankBoston. The Girl 25 Scouts, who have 65 cities and towns which provide 0135 1 the jurisdiction served by Patriots Trail and serve 2 over 30,000 girls yearly with the help of 10,000 3 adult volunteers, benefit from a variety of support, 4 resources, and funding provided by both Fleet and 5 BankBoston. 6 Just to mention a few, collaboration and 7 development of a Financial Literacy Program for 8 young girls five years old to 18, to investigate 9 money issues, including savings, investment, loans, 10 and basic money management, as well as career 11 exploration in the financial world. We call that 12 program Smart About Money. 13 Employees of Fleet and BankBoston have been 14 encouraged to provide community service as 15 volunteers. The employees serve on our board of 16 directors, finance, and fund development committees, 17 as well as working directly as positive role models 18 to girls serving as troop leaders, trainers, program 19 support, and our ever-popular community care days of 20 service. 21 Fleet has supported our efforts to 22 recognize achievements and accomplishments of Boston 23 women who serve as positive role models for the 24 youth of our communities. In addition, they have 25 served as advocates for girls and youth in the 0136 1 neighborhoods through an ongoing partnership to make 2 it possible for girls whose families may not be able 3 to afford summer camp, to make it possible for those 4 girls to attend one of our day or resident camps by 5 funding camper shifts. Funding from Fleet has 6 helped to promote our Girls Eye View Program where 7 girls throughout New England were provided with 8 tools to express their view and perspective on the 9 world, their community, or the neighborhood, through 10 photography, poetry, and writing of stories. 11 Currently a traveling exhibit is on view throughout 12 New England. 13 Lastly, but very significantly, there has 14 been a strong commitment from Fleet to our 15 communities to support our 2500 Girl Scout troops by 16 accessing free banking services so that the funds 17 earned by these young girls are safeguarded in 18 checking accounts. 19 We have a strong partnership with Fleet and 20 BankBoston, and we look forward to the merger as 21 expanding new services, resources, and opportunities 22 for the youth in our communities that we serve. 23 Thank you. (Applause) 24 MR. WILLIAMS: Good morning. My name is 25 Greg Williams, I'm the president and owner of GW 0137 1 Enterprises, Inc., which is an information 2 technology consulting firm. And I am also the 3 president of the Mercer County Business Association, 4 which is a not-for-profit organization of more than 5 200 small and minority-owned businesses. We are an 6 advocacy group representing the interests of small 7 businesses and their owners in Mercer County and 8 throughout the State of New Jersey. 9 I'm here this morning to speak in favor of 10 the proposed merger of Fleet Bank and BankBoston. 11 The Mercer County Business Association has worked 12 very hard to make sure that small, women, and 13 minority-owned businesses are afforded the same 14 opportunities to grow and develop as larger 15 majority-owned businesses in the State of New Jersey 16 and in the country. 17 We have found a ready partner towards 18 meeting that objective in Fleet Bank, particularly 19 since Joyce Harley has become the head of the New 20 Jersey Community Development Group. Fleet and Ms. 21 Harley have shown by word and deed that there is a 22 real commitment to financing and supporting small 23 business in New Jersey. Fleet has exceeded that 24 commitment, the commitment it made when it entered 25 the state through its acquisition of NatWest Bank 0138 1 three years ago to put over $200 million in small 2 business loans on the books. 3 The Mercer County Business Association 4 meets with Ms. Harley and her staff on a regular 5 basis to monitor the commitment, and we are pleased 6 with the results. The goal has been exceeded by 7 more than 73 percent to date. Fleet has 8 particularly reached out to small, women, and 9 minority-owned businesses in our urban and poor 10 areas, offering training seminars on how to borrow 11 money and how to write business plans that, in Ms. 12 Harley's own words, tell our story so that bankers 13 understand. 14 Fleet has been the leading bank in forming 15 a partnership with the state's Entrepreneurial 16 Training Institute. That institute is a project of 17 the New Jersey Development Authority of which I am a 18 board member. Of the 10 classes offered statewide, 19 six were staffed by Fleet Bankers, including the 20 entire community development staff. Fleet has 21 worked with the Mercer County Business Association 22 to offer small businesses an opportunity to do 23 business with Fleet and other large businesses in 24 the state, many of whom are Fleet commercial 25 customers. 0139 1 In conclusion, the Mercer County Business 2 Association supports this merger because we are well 3 aware of BankBoston's fine reputation. We believe 4 that their commitment, combined with Fleet's 5 actions, will serve the interests of the small and 6 minority business community in the State of New 7 Jersey even better than it's being served today. 8 Thank you. (Applause) 9 MS. RESNEY: Good morning. I'm Romney 10 Resney, director of Mass Insight Education and 11 Research Institute. Since 1989 Mass Insight has 12 worked in developing initiatives to create a strong 13 and competitive Massachusetts economy for all 14 Massachusetts citizens. More recently, Mass Insight 15 Education is working with 47 school districts, 16 public school districts throughout Massachusetts on 17 raising student achievement. 18 It's crucial for Massachusetts community 19 groups like Mass Insight to have a strong nationally 20 competitive local bank based in New England. I 21 could, like many of my peers here, discuss the many 22 contributions BankBoston has made to our efforts, 23 but I'd like to spend some time discussing the 24 alternatives to the merger. 25 Current banking industry trends and recent 0140 1 experience show that it's unrealistic for Fleet and 2 BankBoston to remain independent and nationally 3 competitive locally based banks. We need these 4 banks in this community. Banks nationwide are 5 facing a rapidly changing competitive environment. 6 They're facing the threat of national consolidation. 7 We see this all across the country with different 8 bank mergers, facing industry convergence where 9 nontraditional banking institutions are moving into 10 the banking sector. We're also seeing the threat of 11 e-banking and e-commerce which is rapidly increasing 12 the speed with which all of this is taking place and 13 also reducing some of the implications for the local 14 branch office. 15 Fleet and BankBoston are facing these 16 competitive threats, and I honestly believe they can 17 face them stronger together. In the new banking 18 environment there are basically three options on the 19 table as I see it: 20 First, Fleet-BankBoston remain independent 21 and one or both are bought by a large, outside bank. 22 This takes away from the resources available to 23 community groups like ours. 24 Second, Fleet and BankBoston remain 25 independent, and if by some small chance they are 0141 1 not bought by an outside bank, they'll lose market 2 share to new entrants, national players, and some of 3 these other industry players who are moving into the 4 banking sector. 5 And third, and I believe the best of all 6 options, is the Fleet-BankBoston merger will create 7 a nationally competitive, locally based bank that 8 will continue to invest in the strength of the New 9 England economy. We at Mass Insight support this 10 third option and believe in the long-term interest 11 of Massachusetts community groups. Thank you. 12 (Applause) 13 MR. LORD: For the record my name is 14 Richard Lord, I'm executive vice president of 15 Legislative Policy for Associated Industries of 16 Massachusetts. Associated Industries is the 17 Commonwealth's principal statewide employer 18 organization representing 5300 businesses and 19 nonprofit entities across Massachusetts engaged in 20 virtually every economic sector. 21 This merger represents an important, 22 positive step to assure that Massachusetts and New 23 England businesses will benefit from a banking 24 system that offers both stable financial resources 25 and the increasingly sophisticated banking services 0142 1 that are essential to success of the modern economy. 2 In the first years of this decade when the 3 New England banking system was in turmoil, AIM and a 4 number of member companies consistently reported 5 serious difficulties in obtaining bank loans. We 6 have heard few, if any, such reports of such lack of 7 access to capital for more than five years now. 8 BankBoston and Fleet have been the leaders, along 9 with a group of outstanding community banks, not 10 only in restoring the financial stability of our 11 regional banking system but also in re-establishing 12 and greatly extending the range of banking services 13 available to local companies. The proposed merger 14 is vital because it will safeguard those gains. 15 Thank you for the opportunity to testify. 16 (Applause) 17 MS. JONES: Thank you. My name is Martha 18 Jones, and I'm the executive director of the 19 BankBoston Celebrity Series. The Celebrity Series 20 is New England's premier performing arts presenting 21 organization who for the past 10 years has enjoyed a 22 fruitful partnership with BankBoston; BankBoston, of 23 course, which is regarded throughout New England as 24 the premier corporate philanthropist of cultural 25 organizations. 0143 1 Since 1989, BankBoston has been the 2 Celebrity Series title sponsor and has been 3 steadfast in its commitment to our growth and 4 independence as a non-for-profit organization. Of 5 significance, the Bank's sponsorship has provided 6 the resources necessary to enhance our education and 7 community service program Project Discovery, which 8 this past season served more than 23,000 young 9 people in the Greater Boston vicinity through master 10 classes, workshops in the schools, performance 11 tickets at little or no cost, to over 40 12 performances at Symphony Hall, the Wang Center, 13 Shubert Theater, all of this as a result of 14 BankBoston's continued ongoing sponsorship. 15 I am here today to speak in support of the 16 merger between BankBoston Corporation and Fleet 17 Financial Group. Both institutions have made public 18 their intentions to continue to support community 19 cultural and healthcare charitable organizations at 20 or above current individual levels of support. I 21 believe this to be an honorable and true statement. 22 Through a previous merger with BayBanks, BankBoston 23 continued its high level of charitable giving and 24 in fact increased their support, not only of the 25 Celebrity Series but of other organizations. 0144 1 BankBoston and Fleet Financial Group are 2 already woven into the fabric of Boston's cultural 3 community, and with a new banking entity based here 4 in Boston, I would look forward and expect their 5 charitable commitments to play an even greater role 6 in strengthening that fabric. The Celebrity Series 7 is pleased to move into the next millennium with 8 this new Fleet-BankBoston Corporation. Thank you 9 for your time. (Applause) 10 MR. BESSIRE: Good afternoon, I'm Paul 11 Bessire from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I am 12 also pleased to testify on behalf of the museum in 13 support of the merger of Fleet Financial Group and 14 BankBoston. Fleet and BankBoston are close partners 15 of the MFA, as well as long-time and generous 16 supporters. On an annual basis both companies have 17 led the MFA's Corporate Partners Program by giving 18 at its highest levels for many years, enabling the 19 MFA to enhance its role as a community resource. 20 Important senior executives from both banks are 21 involved with the MFA in a significant capacity as 22 overseers, volunteers, and patrons. In the past 23 several years Fleet and BankBoston have made several 24 major acquisitions possible at the MFA. In addition 25 to enriching the city's cultural life, these 0145 1 exhibitions generate significant economic activity 2 in the region by attracting large numbers of 3 visitors. 4 For example, during Monet, The 20th Century 5 sponsored by Fleet, more than 40 percent of the 6 560,000 visitors came from outside of Boston 7 providing an economic impact of over $34 million. 8 We were also particularly impressed by Fleet's 9 commitment to making Monet accessible to children 10 and seniors by creating extensive education 11 materials and by providing over 8,000 free tickets 12 to community groups. 13 BankBoston is also currently sponsoring the 14 John Singer Sargent at the MFA. This is the third 15 major exhibition sponsored by BankBoston in the last 16 four years. We have also been impressed by their 17 leadership in creating the groundbreaking program 18 Museums On Us, an innovative program featuring 21 19 New England museums. Given these track records, we 20 have full confidence that the new Fleet-Boston will 21 continue to be a good neighborhood and strong 22 supporter of Boston's museums and cultural 23 organizations. Thank you. (Applause) 24 PASTOR GILLISON: Good morning. My name is 25 William Gillison, I'm pastor of the Mt. Olive 0146 1 Baptist Church. 2 My relationship with Fleet Bank began 3 approximately 19 years ago when one of their branch 4 managers Mr. Roger Richardson and I served on a 5 community board together. At that time we shared 6 with him that Mt. Olive was experiencing growing 7 pains, and we were looking for a bank that would 8 assist us in seeing that our vision would come to 9 fruition. Even though we had no banking 10 relationship with Fleet Bank at the time, Fleet was 11 the bank that responded first to our business 12 proposal. And at that time no other lending 13 institution would even speak with us. 14 Fleet's bank managers -- Fleet assigned a 15 vice president to our particular plan, and we are 16 glad to say that Fleet was the first in our area to 17 lend any African-American bank over a million -- a 18 church, that is, over a million and a half dollars 19 based upon a fair look at our business plan and our 20 record. We do believe we stand today to ask this 21 commission if they would grant Fleet this 22 opportunity to continue expressing this type of 23 leadership in the industry. (Applause) 24 MR. PARROTT: I'm Charles Parrott, I'm vice 25 chairman of the YMCA of Greater Boston. The YMCA of 0147 1 Greater Boston is the largest childcare provider in 2 the Greater Boston area. It has a number of other 3 programs for inner city children. Those programs 4 could not exist without the support of corporate 5 Boston. Over the years BankBoston has been a 6 substantial contributor, it goes back as far as the 7 YMCA does, and that's almost 150 years. In recent 8 years Fleet has become a substantial contributor to 9 the programs of the YMCA. 10 It is our hope that should this merger go 11 through, that the combined bank will be able to 12 continue that support. We have every reason to 13 believe that it will through what we read in the 14 press. I thank you for this opportunity. 15 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you. 16 MS. SCOTT: My name is Ruth Scott and I'm 17 president and CEO of Scott Consulting Associates. I 18 come to this question from an interesting 19 perspective, a broad-based one. I started out in 20 the '70s as the president of an organization that 21 did the initial research on the redline issue, and 22 then over the years I've been involved with Fleet 23 and with other banking institutions across the 24 country, as well as neighborhood Reinvestment 25 Corporation and neighborhood groups in trying to 0148 1 figure out how these organizations could speak 2 effectively with each other and form collaborations 3 that work. 4 I come in favor of the merger between Fleet 5 and BankBoston because I see things there that make 6 me understand that they know what it's all about and 7 they will do the thing that is right in terms of 8 these partnerships and community development. I 9 want to just give an example of a leveraging that 10 Fleet often does in its marketplace. 11 I was involved with a community development 12 organization, a faith- based organization, three 13 years ago which wanted to build a complex as the 14 first African-American organization in Rochester, 15 New York, to do such a thing. We went to Fleet and 16 asked them for $5,000 originally as seed money to 17 establish a corporation, and they gave us that. 18 That commitment grew over time to $100,000. It 19 wasn't just that, though. That commitment grew in 20 addition to a $500,000 commitment for building, and 21 it grew in addition with other organizations giving 22 over $500,000 to the organization and HUD giving a 23 $3 1/2 million grant. It is that kind of leveraging 24 that Fleet understands as we go into the 21st 25 century. 0149 1 As I have looked at banks across the 2 country, what I have found is these kind of mergers 3 work when you have three things: a solid and an 4 active commitment to community building; a mission 5 engaged in understanding of a changing landscape and 6 its imperative to merge and collaborate with 7 like-minded corporations; and a solid organizational 8 profit base which allows for the keeping of those 9 commitments. I believe that this merger would give 10 all of those things. 11 There is a saying that "When certain people 12 whisper, everybody listens." I think that's true in 13 our communities. As Fleet has grown stronger, when 14 it whispers, other corporations and governments also 15 listen. And in addition, when the community speaks, 16 Fleet listens. And I believe that the 17 Fleet-BankBoston merger will continue to do that. 18 Thank you. 19 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 20 much. (Applause) 21 MR. CUENCA: Good afternoon. My name is 22 Peter Cuenca, I'm the president of CuencaVision, 23 WCA-T.V., it's a Spanish television station. I am 24 also the editor and the publisher of the newspaper 25 Las Manos, which is a weekly Spanish newspaper in 0150 1 the New England area. 2 I am here to tell you about my experience 3 with Fleet Bank. I was in need of financial 4 assistance of a loan from the bank, and I went to 5 them, to the community development department, and I 6 found there people that would listen to me. They 7 did help me, they gave me a loan, and thanks to them 8 I am able to have new equipment, to expand our 9 services to the community. 10 And I find that they have a corporate 11 responsibility, that they have listened to many 12 people like me in the community, they are committed 13 for the future to do that, and if that is the case, 14 based on my experience, obviously this merger is a 15 good thing for our community. It's important to 16 face the fact that our global economy today, there 17 is a need for a strong financial institutions. 18 And based on that, we also have to think in 19 terms there is enough turning the forces around to 20 keep them with the proper commitment to our 21 communities. Banks are not only local banks now, 22 they are national banks, they are international 23 banks. And those commercial or competitive forces 24 will be strong enough, I believe, to maintain a good 25 relationship between the community and the banking 0151 1 system. Thank you. 2 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you. 3 (Applause) 4 MS. DOWNIE: I'm Lyndia Downie, I'm the 5 Acting President of the Pine Street Inn. We're an 6 agency that provides shelter, job training, and 7 affordable housing to homeless individuals and most 8 recently homeless families. And I too am here to 9 support the merger of Fleet and BankBoston. 10 Fleet has been a strong, responsive, and 11 good corporate citizen. They have been supporting 12 the Inn's work for many, many years since they have 13 been in Boston. Last year they helped us put an 14 outreach van on the street that provides 15 transportation, blankets, and referrals to homeless 16 people living on the street. In previous years they 17 helped us start a program for homeless elderly woman 18 focused on finding them housing. 19 We have been developing affordable housing 20 for over 10 years, and Fleet has consistently 21 offered support, both corporate support and lending 22 support, for those affordable housing projects. And 23 they have been very responsive to all the issues 24 around homelessness. In fact, last winter when a 25 number of people died on the street, Fleet was the 0152 1 first to call and say, "Is there anything we can do 2 to help?" We hope that they will continue this and 3 have every expectation they will continue to be good 4 and strong corporate citizens and they will continue 5 to be in support of homeless issues. Thank you. 6 (Applause) 7 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 8 much. 9 MS. RODGERSON: Hi. My name is Susan 10 Rodgerson, and I'm the founder and director of 11 Artists for Humanity, which is a grass-roots 12 organization here in Boston that serves urban teens 13 in an after-school program. 14 Fleet and BankBoston both have been very 15 supportive from the corporate philanthropy 16 departments of their institutions. But more 17 importantly, we provide products and services for 18 the business community that are performed by teens, 19 and Fleet Bank has hired us very often to do jobs 20 that are professional and performed by teenagers. 21 And I really believe that their commitment 22 to the inner city through working with youth is an 23 important one, and I also think that this is a great 24 opportunity for two strong institutions that are 25 local, that have been here for a long time, to merge 0153 1 and to increase their level of support and 2 commitment through their shared history in Boston. 3 So I support the merger and hope that they will 4 maximize this opportunity for both of them to 5 succeed. Thank you. 6 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 7 much. 8 MR. REGAN: My name is Bob Regan, and I'm 9 president and CEO of New England College of Finance. 10 New England College of Finance is a unique 11 educational resource founded in Boston in 1909. 12 This organization has evolved into an accredited, 13 degree-granting college, the only banking institute 14 in America ever to achieve full collegiate status 15 with 250-member institutions and annual enrollments 16 in excess of 7500, this is a very important resource 17 to our financial industry. 18 Fleet Financial Group is a member of the 19 college and is the highest participating bank in our 20 programs. It is extremely generous in encouraging 21 its employees to pursue their education. This 22 generosity is especially important to lower-paid 23 employees and to minorities, the latter population 24 comprising nearly 40 percent of our total annual 25 enrollments. Fleet also provides the college with 0154 1 extraordinary support in the form of governance and 2 faculty leadership and free use of classroom space 3 at several of their locations throughout New 4 England. 5 Simply put, without the support of Fleet 6 Financial Group, the financial services industry in 7 this area would have great difficulty sustaining 8 this important educational resource and many 9 individuals would be denied access to a college 10 education. 11 In addition to its dominant role in the 12 college, Fleet is a founding member of the Financial 13 Services Academy, a newly created service of the 14 college, working with CBOs like Urban League, ABCD, 15 and Stride, the mission of the academy is to recruit 16 and train diverse inner city populations for 17 entry-level jobs in the industry. During the first 18 three months of operation the academy has trained 77 19 individuals, many of whom have already been placed 20 in good-paying jobs. Of these graduates, more than 21 90 percent are ethnic minorities and recent 22 immigrants and 75 percent identified English as 23 their second language. 24 In short, I personal cannot say enough good 25 things about Fleet Financial Group. As 0155 1 consolidation creates ever-larger banking 2 institutions, I believe we are very fortunate in New 3 England that a responsible powerhouse is being 4 formed. Thank you. 5 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you. 6 MS. DURADO: Good afternoon. My name is 7 Rosa Minayo Durado, I am here as a board member of 8 the Latino Professional Network. Latino 9 Professional Network is an organization that links 10 Boston's Latino professionals with employment and 11 business opportunities. 12 The Latino Professional Network is here to 13 support the merger with Fleet for many reasons. One 14 of them is that Fleet has followed and continues to 15 support the mission of the Latino Professional 16 Network, which is to give access information and 17 business opportunity to the Latino professionals. 18 Fleet has given to individuals and also to different 19 businesses credit opportunity. It has helped 20 technical assistance to some of the small Latino 21 businesses, and also the Community Development Group 22 of the Fleet works very closely with many of the 23 members that run nonprofit agencies. 24 So as a board member of the LPN, I would 25 like to support the Fleet merger. Thank you. 0156 1 (Applause) 2 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 3 much. 4 MR. SWANN: My name is Lynn Swann, and I 5 come to this by way of being a member of the Fleet 6 In-City Advisory Board. We make suggestions and 7 comments and discussions, debates on Fleet's policy 8 to low- to moderate-income families and mortgages, 9 small business loans, existing loans, loans to 10 existing businesses, so that they can serve the 11 community, even as far as small farm equipment for 12 Fleet. 13 But I really come here because I've been a 14 volunteer for more than 19 years, starting with Big 15 Brothers and Big Sisters of America as a board 16 member, as a national board president and chair of a 17 national capital campaign. And it's this area I'd 18 like to talk to you about in terms of Fleet's 19 involvement with the community. 20 In 1998, there were 17,000 employees who 21 were volunteers in the Fleet program. 95,000 22 volunteer hours in 1998 alone. These were made 23 possible because Fleet's policy is to give their 24 employees two days off with pay to volunteer in the 25 community. That translated into 39,000 kids 0157 1 participating in 450 community projects. Since 2 1996, 82,000 children and young adults have been 3 involved in over 1,000 community service projects 4 and more than $850,000 awarded to winning teams in 5 the Fleet All Star Program. 6 You don't have those kinds of programs 7 unless you're committed to a program, unless you're 8 committed to building a community, because these 9 aren't your traditional people who are banking in 10 your institute, these are people who are going to be 11 making deposits somewhere down the road. And if 12 you're committed to the community, these are the 13 kinds of involvements you have. Fleet has created 14 20 tutorial centers, their commitment is to have 25 15 by the year 2000 throughout the Northeast, and 16 mentoring is an important component in growing a 17 community and building that infrastructure. If you 18 don't think so, let me just give you a couple of 19 quick numbers. 20 Through Big brothers and Big Sisters, here 21 is what mentoring has done: 52 percent, in a 22 scientific study, 52 percent of the kids in a 23 mentoring relationship are less likely to skip 24 school, 46 percent are less likely to use drugs, 27 25 percent are less likely to use alcohol, 33 percent 0158 1 are less likely to use physical force to resolve 2 conflicts. As the woman who testified earlier about 3 programs at Fleet through ACORN having saved her 4 family's life, this is the kind of involvement that 5 builds the infrastructure of a community, where 6 young people grow, feel safe, and can be productive 7 citizens. 8 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 9 much. (Applause) 10 MR. JONES: My name is Tripp Jones, and I'm 11 the cofounder and executive director of The 12 Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, also 13 known as MassInc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan public 14 policy think-tank based here in Boston. MassInc. 15 was established four years ago to develop public 16 policy approaches that result in a flourishing 17 middle class in Massachusetts. 18 I will refrain from elaborating more on 19 MassInc., but I do want to use this opportunity to 20 testify that the encouragement and support we have 21 received from BankBoston and Fleet made an enormous 22 contribution to our success. I have witnessed first 23 hand the determination of both institutions, not 24 only to provide vital financial support to community 25 organizations like MassInc. but to develop strong 0159 1 give-and-take dialogues with local groups borne out 2 of sheer commitment to the civic life of our 3 Commonwealth. 4 At a time when many corporations are 5 myopically devoted to bottom-line considerations, 6 these two institutions have shown the kind of 7 leadership, a willingness to take risks, like 8 supporting a small, start-up think-tank, that puts 9 them in the front rank of our very best corporate 10 citizens in Massachusetts. 11 The economic vitality of our state as a 12 whole, and to some degree the vitality of our 13 community organizations like MassInc., depend on the 14 ability of our banking industry to retain its 15 independence in the midst of extremely competitive 16 national and international pressures to the extent 17 that Fleet and BankBoston have found common ground 18 in a way to sustain that gain, I support their 19 efforts. 20 It is often argued that as the Internet and 21 other technologies continue to shrink the world in 22 which we live, circumstances of geography and place 23 are less important in our lives. Today I want to 24 argue that the opposite is often true. Geography 25 matters. In this case it matters a great deal that 0160 1 the banking decisions affecting the lives of New 2 Englanders be made by New Englanders whenever 3 possible. It's not to say that regional industries 4 don't have to operate within larger economic 5 realities, but it does suggest that we should jump 6 at opportunities to bolster our regional economic 7 independence and to secure our long-term health. 8 I want to applaud the holding of this 9 public hearing ensuring that the Fleet-BankBoston 10 merger results in equally shared benefits for 11 shareholders, customers, and all citizens who 12 require a great deal of judgment, compromise, and 13 trust building among all parties involved, and I am 14 pleased to have had the opportunity to participate. 15 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 16 much. 17 MR BROWN: My name is Michael Brown, I'm 18 the president and cofounder of the City Year 19 organization, a national service organization 20 founded in Boston that engages over 1,000 young 21 adults ages 17 to 24 in the area of full-time 22 community service. I appreciate this opportunity to 23 testify on behalf of City Year on behalf of the 24 proposed merger between BankBoston and Fleet 25 Financial Group. 0161 1 We know from direct experience that it is 2 critically important for Massachusetts to remain a 3 headquarters for a major national financial 4 institution. Indeed, were it not for BankBoston 5 and the active leadership of Chad Gifford and Ira 6 Jackson, City Year would not exist today. 10 years 7 ago when City Year was no more than words on paper, 8 BankBoston stepped forward and provided the seed 9 capital for our launch. And along with that initial 10 funding came an extraordinary commitment to the 11 young people of Greater Boston. Through their 12 direct involvement, BankBoston has helped to grow 13 City Year's 54 members in Boston to 1,000 across the 14 country. 15 BankBoston leads our efforts here and 16 around the country to now engage over 300 17 corporations, and Chad and Ira have testified before 18 Congress and have helped to build the Americorps 19 program nationwide. Recently BankBoston, which 20 sponsored the first team in our history 10 years 21 ago, permanently endowed a team of young people in 22 service to City Year Boston. This is the first 23 endowed community service positions for young people 24 in America history. 25 Fleet Bank has also been essential to our 0162 1 organization, partnering with us since 1990 and 2 cofounding with BankBoston our Rhode Island program. 3 Fleet Bank executives now serve on our local 4 advisory board, contributing their time, energy, and 5 vision and make possible our annual celebrations of 6 Dr. Martin Luther King's holiday and our Black 7 History Month celebrations. Over the past 10 years 8 these two banks combined have ensured that 260 young 9 people have provided a year of full-time service. 10 That means 442,000 hours of service tutoring and 11 mentoring children. 12 Our relationship with both institutions has 13 been one of integrity and purpose based on shared 14 values and deep wonder of the power of young people. 15 Our support for the merger is based on a decade of 16 partnership and belief. I am confident that the 17 banks' firmly established traditions of community 18 partnership and involvement will continue in the 19 decade to come. Thank you. 20 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you. 21 (Applause) 22 I'd like to remind the witnesses that they 23 may submit their statements for the record, and the 24 sooner you get them to our registration table the 25 better it will be for our court reporters. Thank 0163 1 you. 2 MR. MIRABAL: My name is Manuel Mirabal, 3 I'm the president and CEO of the National Puerto 4 Rican Coalition, a nonprofit public policy 5 organization out of Washington, D.C. and I am also 6 the chair of the Hispanic Association on Corporate 7 Responsibility out of washington, D.C. 8 Since 1994, NPRC and Fleet have been 9 working in partnership on issues of community 10 economic development and neighborhood 11 revitalization, affordable housing development, home 12 mortgage lending, and consumer banking issues. In 13 the New England states where Fleet has a major 14 presence, the Puerto Rican community makes up more 15 than 50 percent of all of the Latino population. In 16 New York and New Jersey, it is 1.5 million of the 3 17 million Hispanics who live in those states. 18 We have had many opportunities to meet with 19 the senior officials of Fleet and have found them to 20 be always accessible, including Mr. Terry Murray, 21 Fleet CEO, and Agnes Bundy Scanlan, the managing 22 director of Fleet's Community Development 23 Department. And we have had several opportunities 24 to discuss the needs of the Latino community with 25 them and other banking officials. We have seen a 0164 1 steady improvement in the bank's investments to 2 support community housing development projects. 3 We have also targeted corporate and 4 foundation resources to support the work of 5 organizations serving our communities. Throughout 6 our partnership, this has increased to a level which 7 now approaches, we believe, an equitable 8 distribution of these funds to the growing Latino 9 community. Fleet has also created one of the most 10 flexible, affordable loan programs and has as a 11 result helped many Latino low-income families get 12 their dream of buying a home. 13 Fleet has also responded to our concerns 14 over the hiring of more Latinos in their structure, 15 and they have done so throughout their system 16 through recruitment and hiring. Based on their 17 commitment to neighborhood reinvestment and 18 investment in our projects and the corporate 19 responsibility which Fleet has demonstrated in 20 working`with NPRC over the last six years I 21 encourage the Federal Reserve Bank to approve the 22 merger between Fleet Group and BankBoston. Thank 23 you. 24 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 25 much. (Applause) 0165 1 MR. MOY: My name is Frank Moy, and I'm the 2 chairman of the Boston Chamber of Neighborhood 3 Commerce. The Boston Chamber of Neighborhood 4 Commerce was formed in 1991 during a very difficult 5 recession period by a group of small business owners 6 and representatives from every neighborhood business 7 district in Boston representing several thousand 8 neighborhood businesses. Recently the Boston 9 Chamber Neighborhood Commerce became an affiliate 10 member of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. 11 The primary mission of the BCNC is to 12 enhance the vitality of Boston's neighborhood 13 commercial districts. The Boston Chamber 14 Neighborhood Commerce supports the Fleet-BankBoston 15 merger because both banks have New England roots and 16 have been active participants in promoting small 17 business lending and banking services. Fleet and 18 BankBoston provide financial and staff support to 19 the Boston Chamber Neighborhood Commerce. 20 Staff from Fleet and BankBoston have and 21 continue to serve on the BCNC Board of Directors and 22 have participated in numerous workshops on small 23 business lending procedures, including the 5 C's of 24 Credit, Small Business Administration Low Doc 25 Program, second look program if a loan is denied, 0166 1 and the Community Reinvestment Act. Fleet and 2 BankBoston have participated in business support 3 programs on marketing, public relations, community 4 and public review process, e-commerce, retail 5 security, One Stop Program at the Empowerment 6 Center, and small business management. 7 In closing, we support the Fleet and 8 BankBoston merger because both organizations have 9 demonstrated their commitment to Boston's small 10 business community during good and bad economic 11 times. Thank you. 12 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 13 much. 14 MR. DICKERMAN: Hello. I'm Stephen 15 Dickerman, the executive director of Friends of New 16 England Holocaust Memorial. I've held this position 17 for 11 years. Since our earliest days it's been our 18 dream to build a memorial to the Holocaust on 19 Boston's Freedom Trail, and I am pleased to share 20 with you the legacy of community leadership that we 21 at the memorial have experienced with BankBoston. 22 While the idea of the memorial was 23 conceived by a group of survivors to the Holocaust 24 and encouraged by a small group of their supporters, 25 it could not have been realized without the 0167 1 leadership from Boston's corporate and philanthropic 2 community. I have witnessed BankBoston making such 3 a leadership happen. 4 In 1991, the head of the Boston 5 Redevelopment Authority invited business leaders to 6 learn more about the potential impact that Message 7 of Memory could have on this important American 8 site. It was at that meeting that the crucial 9 relationship between the Memorial and BankBoston 10 began. 11 BankBoston participated in that meeting and 12 responded to our plans and saw in it the opportunity 13 to remember the historical tragedies of European 14 Jews in a way that would speak to the universal 15 issues of danger of bigotry, intolerance, and racial 16 hatred. BankBoston began a relationship with the 17 Memorial providing us with financial resources as 18 well as a wide range of support. Most importantly, 19 BankBoston provided leadership to enlist other 20 institutions and individuals in support of the 21 project. 22 BankBoston's influence on our project has 23 been extraordinary. The bank has supported our 24 capital campaign in a wide range of special projects 25 that help bring universal lessons to young people 0168 1 and visitors from all backgrounds. I'm very proud 2 of the Memorial, its critical success, and its 3 ability to speak to hundreds of thousands of 4 visitors. Simply put, the Memorial could not have 5 been built and would not have sustained its 6 operations and extraordinary and educational 7 programs without BankBoston's remarkable leadership. 8 I also think the experience with the 9 Memorial told us a lot in support of a Boston-based 10 institution. BankBoston, Fleet, and all of our 11 corporate supporters were Boston based. I'm pleased 12 to speak in support of the merger. 13 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 14 much. (Applause) 15 We are ready for the next panel. 16 (A pause) 17 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Panel Six will 18 start with the Reverend Sharpton.
Last update: December 3, 2010