Thursday, December 17, 2009

Amalgamated Bank Opens Myrtle Avenue Branch

By Conor Greene

Residents have a new option in local banking with the opening of Amalgamated Bank on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood. The occasion was marked with a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday attended by a host of local residents and officials.

The bank touts itself as “America’s Labor Bank” and offers services that “work hard for working people.” The new branch at 56-29 Myrtle Avenue marks the borough’s third location, along with Flushing and Long Island City. The company plans to open two more branches in the coming year, including one planned for Maspeth in early 2010.

Derrick Cephas, president and executive officer of Amalgamated Bank, said the company was looking to expand into the “nice, stable, middle-income” neighborhoods of Queens. In particular, they were searching for a location that offers plenty of street traffic, small businesses and population density. “This fits the bill – great visibility and a nice location,” said Cephas. “You can’t beat it.”

He said Amalgamated offers all the various banking service the community needs at competitive terms. “We don’t try to get the last nickel out of the customer,” he said. Speaking before the subsequent ribbon-cutting, he elaborated on why Ridgewood is a good fit for the company. The bank was founded 85 years ago because many immigrants, especially Jewish and Italian, needed a bank that would do business with them. “That’s our founding, that’s our roots,” he said.

The bank provides many services to the community, including free workshops about topics like obtaining a mortgage and building credit, according to Keith Pilkington, executive vice president for marking and retail banking. “Especially in these times, that is really needed,” he said.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-Ozone Park) called the opening of a new bank an indication the economy is turning the corner. “That’s a good sign,” he said, adding that it’s “an absolute challenge for someone like Amalgamated Bank to cut a ribbon today.”

Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, called Amalgamated “a bank with a rich social history” that will benefit the area. “It shows they really believe in the Ridgewood community and our commercial strip,” he said.

Top: Bank President Derrick Cephas cuts the ribbon on Amalgamated’s newest branch as staff members, elected officials and neighbors look on. Bottom: Ridgewood resident Andrew Bennett, one of three lucky raffle winners, is congratulated by Lona Gill of Amalgamated.

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