BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It's been more than a year since KeyBank announced a new branch would be coming to Buffalo's East Side, and Channel 2 wants to know when this underserved community is getting what it was promised.
To KeyBank’s credit, it does already have three branches on the East Side, but this newest branch was announced with fanfare, when KeyBank was working on its image, since not everyone was on board with the company’s merger with First Niagara at the time.
“It's still very much a promise. We're working hard on that,” said KeyBank WNY Regional Director Buford Sears. “We've reached out to many community leaders and stakeholders and constituents; we continue to do that. We're probably a good 18, maybe 24 months, away from knowing exactly where we want to be because we want to be in a location that will be very impactful.”
Sears says it could be another six to nine months after that to get a branch up and running, so realistically, it won't open for another two or three years.
Sears says the site selection is the most important part of this process because he hopes it spurs a mini market of growth around it, in an impoverished area that could really benefit from development.
"That could mean language assistance, that could mean a whole variety of things. It would all depend on where the branch was located and what the needs of that specific community were,” Sears said. “But that's a very strong commitment on behalf of the company.”
In the meantime, KeyBank has made another commitment to help new business owners.
The KeyBank Foundation announced just this week its commitment of a $1 million dollar grant to Pathstone, which is helping the Buffalo Minority Assistance Project increase the number of minority owned businesses.
Jonathon Ling, a business development officer for Pathstone, says this is huge for helping startups.
"To serve the Buffalo markets, to reach the individuals who usually don't get marketed to, who usually don't go out seeking small business loans,” Ling explained. “So this will help us get into the community more and show folks that owning a business is an option for them.”
The ambitious goal, as Ling describes it, is to increase the number of minority-owned businesses by 5 percent over five years.