By Megan Sayles
This September, the Harbor Bank of Maryland (Harbor Bank) celebrated its 40th anniversary. Since 1982, the commercial bank has been serving Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia, offering checking and savings accounts, time deposits, credit and debit cards, and commercial real estate, personal, home improvement, and other installment loans.
One of 42 Black-owned financial institutions in the country and one of few Black-owned banks in Maryland, Harbor Bank was formed to provide financial services to underserved communities, who have historically been kept out of the traditional banking system.
“The Harbor Bank of Maryland was founded over 40 years ago with a mission to meet the needs of small- and minority-owned businesses in the Baltimore-Metropolitan area where a lack of access to capital and banking services existed,” says Joseph Haskins, CEO, co-founder, and chairman of Harbor Bank. “The formation of Harbor helped to address these needs; however, many of these adversities still exist today.”
While there has been a recent call to action for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Harbor Bank has employed women and minorities since its inception, and also had them participate on its board of directors.
Before the bank’s establishment, many doubted that Haskins and his colleagues would amass enough capital to secure a Maryland bank charter, but they defied expectations. It opened with $2.1 million in assets, and as of 2020, the bank’s assets have climbed to $321 million.
Currently, Harbor Bank maintains eight branches and, most recently, opened a location in the newly transformed Northwood Commons shopping center in Northeast Baltimore.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Harbor Bank became a lifeline to local businesses that needed supplemental funding to survive the economic shutdown. The bank was able to provide small- and minority-owned businesses with financial assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Its support of the underserved continued even after the economy began to recover from the effects of the pandemic. In February, Harbor Bank announced a partnership with Cerebro Capital, a commercial loan marketplace, to provide $50 million in loans to small- and minority -owned businesses in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.
Thibault Manekin, a partner at Baltimore-based real estate company Seawall, said Harbor Bank has reimagined the banking industry and propelled diverse and inclusive projects and firms to advance throughout Baltimore and the greater DMV region.
Miguel Lambert, CEO of the minority-owned Bulldog Group, also commended the support of Harbor Bank.
“We’ve been banking there, and the Harbor Bank has done just an amazing job in helping us finance and develop properties all over Baltimore City,” Lambert says. “We’re truly blessed to have a partner like Harbor Bank and just for them to understand our goals in serving the City of Baltimore.”
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