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Feditorial: Providing a Bridge to the Community


William Poole
Thursday, July 1, 1999

I knew little of the Federal Reserve's community affairs responsibilities when I became president of the St. Louis Fed in March 1998, but the more I have learned, the greater my pride in the work of our Community Affairs Department. We reach a wide array of audiences through this department—from financial institutions to community development organizations, from small businesses to government agencies.

The involvement of the Federal Reserve System in this area is nothing new. Since 1981, Community Affairs staff members around the System have supported the Fed's economic growth objectives by promoting community development and fair and impartial access to credit. The St. Louis Fed works to help financial institutions and their communities understand and address community development problems and their related financial service needs. We offer resources free of charge to financial institutions, as well as to the general public. These resources include: the quarterly newsletter Bridges; community profiles that describe the demographics and lending, service and investment opportunities in Eighth District regions; conferences, training sessions and forums; presentations; and pamphlets, videos and software. At the same time, our Community Affairs staff collaborates on projects with other Reserve Banks.

The Federal Reserve's Community Affairs goals, I believe, are admirable:

  • helping to foster active participation of financial institutions in providing credit and banking services to traditionally under-served markets;
  • encouraging cooperation among all parties in the lending process;
  • developing greater public awareness about the benefits and risks of financial services products; and
  • promoting a better understanding about the processes and resources that support successful community development programs.

In many ways, these efforts provide the Fed's most direct connection to the community. I invite bankers to take advantage of our Community Affairs Department's valuable services.