With last week’s opening of a branch office in Jersey City and branches coming soon to Bayonne and Hoboken, Investors Bank Chief Executive Office Kevin Cummings has come home. The son of a Jersey City police officer, Cummings was born in Arlington Gardens on Randolph Street before moving across town near St. Peter’s University.
“It’s great to come back,” he said. “Jersey City and Hudson County are unique places. I think what is happening there is fantastic.”
With assets in excess of $20 billion, Investors, the largest and fastest-growing regional bank based in New Jersey, was scheduled to open its first Jersey City branch in the Extra Supermarket, 360 Martin Luther King Boulevard, on Thursday, Dec. 10.
The new Investors Bank location will be a full-service branch in the HUB and provide a wide range of community services as the administration of Mayor Steven Fulop fulfills a commitment to return banking to the shopping center and continues to invest in the long-overlooked Bergen-Lafayette community.
This will be the first bank at the HUB since Bank of America withdrew its branch in 2009, which left the community with limited banking options. In the HUB, Investors will provide a wide array of community services, including educational programming and mentoring support for small businesses, financial literacy training for residents, and attractive loans for eligible first-time homebuyers.
Cummings comes home
According to Gloria Strickland, a leader of New Jersey All Stars Program (which honored Cummings last year), his background gives him “a particularly deep appreciation of the kind of challenges that young people face in the inner-city” and may explain why the CEO of the largest bank in New Jersey is so deeply involved in programs involving some of the poorest residents.
Growing up in Jersey City, Cummings used to bowl at the Hudson Lanes in Jersey City near the Bayonne border within view of Investors’ Bayonne branch, one of the first two branches in Hudson County.
The new construction on the waterfront and at Journal Square left a deep impression. As a student of St. Peter’s Prep (from which he graduated in 1972), he is familiar with how devastated the waterfront was.
“What’s happening in Jersey City is long overdue,” he said. “It’s great to be part of the renaissance of the city and to help it spread from the waterfront to other parts of the city.”
“Jersey City and Hudson County are unique places. I think what is happening there is fantastic.” – Kevin Cummings
“I worked on Exchange Place in the 1970s and 1980s,” he said. “The First Jersey National Bank was one of my clients. Tom Stanton (then president of that bank) worked hard to get the waterfront development. I remember when Port Liberate went bankrupt. Development came in fits and starts. It’s unbelievable how much has changed. Jersey City is more affordable than Manhattan and it is great to see the development on the waterfront and Journal Square.”
Cummings eventually became president and CEO in 2008, and was appointed to the board of directors.
Deeply involved in social programs
In 2005, he helped to establish the Investors Bank Foundation, which supports a number of educational, social, and cultural organizations in communities where the bank does business.
Cummings has been recognized for his giving back to the community through his volunteer activities with a number of non-profit organizations. Along with bank partners and employees from Investors, he was a volunteer at the St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark, and with the Food Pantry.
He has served as a commissioner on the Summit Board of Recreation. He is a trustee of The Scholarship Fund for Inner-City Children, a trustee of the Liberty Science Center, a trustee for the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, and the former chairman of the board and current member of the executive committee of the New Jersey Bankers Association.
He is also a board member of The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York (FHLBNY), the Independent College Fund of New Jersey, and the All Stars Project of New Jersey. Most recently, he agreed to serve as a member of the Development Leadership Council of Morris Habitat for Humanity.
In his spare time he has coached youth basketball in Summit at the AAU, recreation, and CYO level, and has served as the athletic director of St. Theresa’s of Avila. He has been honored by a number of organizations, including the American Conference on Diversity.
Bank manager is also from Jersey City
He is not the only Jersey City connection Investors Bank brings to its new branch on Martin Luther King Drive. Investors Bank has appointed Paloma de Leon, who grew up in Jersey City and is a longtime resident, to manage its new branch that will serve the city’s Hub neighborhood.
Ms. de Leon is developing some financial literacy classes for the community. Investors has aligned with New City Kids, helping lower income children in Jersey City to strive for a college education beginning in their primary school years.
Cummings said he is focused on helping low to moderate income families by assisting children in the New City Kids group and by providing bank services to the Hub neighborhood. Ms. de Leon and her team have already begun serving consumers, small business and organizations in the Jersey City community.
When customers open an Investors deposit account in Jersey City, they will receive a gift. Also, the bank will donate $25 to the New City Kids organization. This local nonprofit empowers at-risk high school students from local neighborhoods to serve as mentors, guides and role models for elementary and middle school children. New City Kids inspires high school students and their mentees to get on an educational track that helps them prepare for, enroll in and complete college.
Customers of the bank will have an array of services open to them with some special offers that are available until Jan. 9, 2016.
As a community and customer-focused bank, Investors is making a long-term commitment to provide personal and small business banking services to the Hub neighborhood, officials said. Ms. de Leon’s responsibilities include the day-to-day operation of the branch as well as mentoring and coaching her team. Over time, she plans to offer financial literacy programs to her customers and neighbors, who are striving to save money and move beyond just paying bills or covering their family’s expenses.
“Paloma comes to her position at Investors with first-hand knowledge of the neighborhood and the situations local residents face in making ends meet,” Cummings said. “She is also an individual who gained her expertise by holding each of the frontline positions in a bank branch. We are confident that Paloma will make the branch a success by meeting the needs and expectations of her customers and the community.”
Prior to joining Investors, Ms. de Leon managed bank branches in Central and Northern New Jersey for PNC Bank. During her six years there, she was recognized for inspiring employees to achieve their potential by encouraging them to increase their skills and take on new responsibilities. Ms. de Leon also grew deposits by attracting and retaining many news customers.
More to come
The Jersey City branch is the first of three branches that Investors will open in Hudson County in the near future.
“We expect to open the Bayonne branch in the next few weeks, and we expect to open a branch in Hoboken next year,” Cumming said.
He said this is part of an expansion of the bank. “We’re in a growth mode, and we need to finance loan expansion and our deposit base,” he said. “The best way to do this is to open new branches.”
He said he sees the Jersey City branch as a good public-private partnership that will help the underserved in Jersey City, but will also expand the success of Jersey City to another part of town.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.