JERSEY CITY – City officials are prepared to try a new strategy to attract a bank to the commercial area known as the HUB. Located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, the HUB is home to several small businesses, municipal offices, and Jackson Green, a new townhouse development that’s currently under construction. Despite all these features, the HUB still lacks a bank and residents in the area have been without a local bank since January 2010, when Bank of America closed a branch in the neighborhood.
Since then, several elected officials, including Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, have tried to lure other banks to the community, to no avail.
However, the Jersey City Council is now prepared to declare the HUB a so-called “banking development district,” which the council members hope may finally attract a banking institution to the area.
On Monday, at a caucus meeting of the City Council, Councilwoman At-Large Viola Richardson explained that giving the HUB this designation will “incentivize” banks to open branches in this community.
State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (31st Dist.-Jersey City) was the lead sponsor of the Banking Development District bill in the senate in 2010 and sponsored the legislation after Bank of America pulled out of the HUB. Cunningham’s bill and a companion piece of legislation in the state Assembly were recently signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.
The law established the Banking Development District Program within the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. The law allows banks in “banking development districts” to hold state treasury funds and municipalities like Jersey City can choose become customers of those bank branches, as can county governments and the state. Since this increases profitability, being a banking institution in a banking development district becomes more attractive.
“This will absolutely help us attract another bank to the HUB because the state will most likely express an interest in depositing state funds into any bank that opens in the district, even though they are not obligated to do so,” explained City Business Administrator Jack Kelly Monday night. “The HUB is the most underserved area of the city, as far a banking is concerned.”
The Jersey City Council will consider whether to designate the HUB a banking development district at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 10 at 6 p.m. The meeting will take place at City Hall, 280 Grove St. – E. Assata Wright