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Talmer Bancorp chairman, Gary Torgow and Michigan Chronicle publisher, Hiram Jackson

“It is critical that the business community and the corporate community extend their development tentacles to the neighborhoods. … They can do business and do something good at the same time.” – Rev. Wendell Anthony

There is no doubt that business partnerships are critical to the redevelopment of ailing communities and the expansion of growing communities. In Detroit the legacy of business-to-business partnerships to spur the revitalization of Detroit has typically been one focused to the revitalization of downtown Detroit, much to the dismay of many local residents. But in this time of economic renewal, many are touting (or decrying) the efforts of established companies to breathe new life into long suffering neighborhoods that have fallen victim to neglect and corporate indifference.

Fortunately, while major corporate players like Quicken Loans and Ilitch Holdings are making their marks in the revitalization and building of Detroit’s burgeoning downtown and midtown areas, others are diligently at work on less spectacular developments to improve the quality of life in the not-so-glamorous outlying neighborhoods.

Case in point: Talmer Bank and Trust, a key supporter of economic development programs in the Detroit metropolitan region, recently partnered with the Michigan Chronicle to create the Students Wired for Achievement and Greatness Awards for disadvantaged Detroit high school seniors hoping to attend college.


The SWAG awards goal is to provide support for students and educators, as well as lay the foundation for future community and business leaders.

“These awards were specifically created to ensure that more Detroit students that demonstrate leadership in multiple areas — other than grades –  have access to higher institutions of learning and continue their personal and academic growth,” said Michigan Chronicle publisher, Hiram E. Jackson.

And, as is so often the case, the concept for the SWAG Awards and programs like it, was born of a simple consensus between advocates for Detroit’s communities.

“It began with a conversation between the Michigan Chronicle team and our Talmer team about how we could collaborate to do something noteworthy and sustainable for the community,” explains Gary Torgow, chairman of Talmer Bankcorp. Inc.

“[Hiram Jackson] and I have worked together on a number of community projects, including co- chairing the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner and weekend freedom fund activities,” said Torgow. “Talmer recognizes the important role and obligations it has as a Michigan-based community bank and the critical role it can play in the cities and counties in which we operate.”

Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit Branch NAACP President underscored the significance of Talmer Banks’ contributions to NAACP initiatives and community programs, and in 2014 presented Torgow with the Fannie Lou Hamer “Keeping the Spirit Alive” award. “Gary Torgow not only brings a business acumen to development, he also brings a sensitivity to people. That’s what makes him and Talmer Bank so effective in their community development efforts,” said Anthony, adding, “The Bible says ‘By their fruits we shall know them’ and we can take heart that Gary Torgow has grown some very good fruit.”

One such effort was the initiation and sponsorship of educational endeavors that highlight financial literacy, home and business ownership, and financial management.

“A very important focus for the team at Talmer Bank has been to assist families and individuals to purchase, renovate, and finance home ownership within struggling neighborhoods and communities,” adds an enthusiastic Torgow. “Through the encouragement of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Talmer undertook in cooperation with the Detroit Land Bank a program to provide interest-free and forgivable loans for home purchases and renovations within the MaryGrove College neighborhood.”

Recognizing that neighborhood revitalization is key to the successful resurgence of Detroit as a world-class city, Talmer’s commitment serves as a springboard for other lenders to follow suit, and the success of the program provided encouragement for other businesses to invest in Detroit’s neighborhoods.

“We committed significant resources to jumpstart a growing demand for home purchases in the wonderful [Marygrove] neighborhood,” continued Torgow. “Being a part of a growing effort to join with many dedicated civic, political, community and business partners to provide financing and assistance in the areas of housing and small business is an important part of our goals and company culture.”

Studies have shown time and time again that business and communities working in partnership results in a win for businesses and neighborhoods. Businesses are able to exercise and fulfill corporate and social responsibility objectives, while communities and members of the community benefit from improved access to capital and resources.

“We believe making a difference in the lives of our customers and communities is a foundational principle of Talmer’s philosophy and values.  Collaboration and partnerships not only encourage good business and community relations, but it is the surest way to leverage multiple resources for the common good.”


For more information on Talmer Banks homeownership programs and other important community initiatives please visit: http://www.talmerbank.com

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