Crenshaw : Disney, Realtors Back Local Bank

A large infusion of investment funds into Family Savings Bank in the past two weeks has bolstered the bank's capital, which will be used in part to increase lending in South Los Angeles, bank officials said.

The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that it will invest $1 million in the Crenshaw-based bank, which will boost Family Savings' capital by 13% and make an additional $20 million available for loans. A week earlier, the Los Angeles County Boards of Real Estate announced that it had invested $35,000 in unbudgeted funds in Family Savings.

"This money will allow us to expand our current base of operation and provide more home loans in the South-Central area," said Ron Thigpenn, Family Savings' executive vice president. "It will provide a capital cushion, which is crucial to us, being a small institution."

Thigpenn said Family Savings was in discussions with Disney for several months before the investment was announced. "Hopefully, their move will encourage other large companies do the same," he said.

The move is the latest effort by Disney to aid the inner city. Since last spring's riots, the company has hired 240 youths for summer jobs at Disneyland, started a micro-loan program for small businesses and opened a store selling Disney trademark merchandise in Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

"We determined that the creation of capital was one of the critical issues in the inner city," said Ken Werner, a Disney senior vice president. "This fills out a mosaic of things we're trying to do. We're just trying to be responsible corporate citizens, do our small part and encourage others to do the same."

Officials at the county real estate organization echoed calls to other other businesses and professional groups to invest in community-based banks. The advocacy organization of 26,000 real estate agents from 29 individual boards countywide deposited its discretionary funds in money market and other accounts in the bank at 3683 Crenshaw Blvd.

"We encourage other boards in our family to put their unbudgeted funds in banks such as Family," said spokesman Paul Kragin. "If everyone were to do this, it would help these (inner-city) banks' ability to help their communities tremendously."

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