Black-owned financial center opens in north Omaha

Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 4:26 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 4, 2022 at 6:39 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For years the North Omaha community was in need of a financial institution that could help the people of the community grow business, wealth, and own their own homes.

“It’s amazing how a community bank understands the people who live there.”

Dr. Martin Williams is one of the co-owners who cut the ribbon to officially open the Carver Legacy Center in the renovated Carver Savings and Loan Association building.

Owners of the Carver want people to make investments in the community.

“So the idea is not really to use the Carver as a cash flow everyday debit card now you’re just spending it, it is let’s sink some money in our community so we see it reverberate, it touches hands, it moves from business to business to business and now we’re building generational wealth that the idea,” said Williams.

“They have been able to lend $1.5 million back into the community and that’s just a start. American National Bank as a part of their promise there is at least another million that’s gone in so you’re getting close to $3 million in lending specifically that’s gone out to help and move into the community,” said Willie Barney, co-owner of Carver Legacy Center.

The Carver has a business hub inside the center where business can promote their services and goods.

“We can partner them up with different companies if they need technical support if they need financial support, whatever it is they need we can support them in that way, said Yolanda Barney, co-owner of Carver Legacy Center.

Brandon Louis is displaying his gourmet popcorn in Carver’s business hub. He hopes to grow his business here.

“We can only reach so many people where we’re at being a few miles from the location. I think this does great for our product to be in a different location to be displayed for people who may not know about us,” said Louis, Huskerland Popcorn.

More homeownership in the North Omaha community is another goal of the legacy center.

“So when you put money in that increases every month, you increase its money you don’t touch, it’s not money for your day to day living, what happens when we have that kind of money in our bank, we can make loans,” said Williams.

Mike Maroney is president of the Omaha Economic Development Corporation. His nonprofit has created housing in North Omaha for years and right now OEDC has broken ground to build six single-family homes near 24th and Lake.

Maroney hopes the Carver center will help bring more homeowners to the area.

“It’s been a challenge for some banks outside to get their arms around lending in this area and this bank will have a better understanding of not only how to do it but why they should be doing it,” said Maroney.

Officials say it is very important to reopen and rebrand this historic savings and loan to once again serve a community that is still underserved.

“We wanted to create a financial institution that would invest back into the community, we wanted to create a hub and accelerator that would help small businesses and specifically black-owned business to launch and grow,” said Willie.

Matthew Cavanaugh is the executive director of Holy Name Housing, a nonprofit that has worked for decades to bring affordable housing to the community. Cavanaugh says more help is needed.

“We have a waitlist of thousands of people between our seniors and our family housing that are just looking for a safe quality place to live so anything that can help support people make that transition in financial security and ultimately achieve homeownership is a great resource,” said Cavanaugh.

Officials say the Carver Legacy Center already has around $9 million in deposits and has already invested close to $3 million in the community.

“We’re restoring this one in this community for this community, especially for people who have been left outside of the process.”

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