The First City To Launch Its Own Bank

What becomes possible when the public owns the bank? Philadelphia wants to find out, with a public bank venture intended to support small businesses and break down the racial wealth gap.

Philadelphia's city hall

Philadelphia's city hall (Photo by Mike BryanCC BY-SA 2.0)

The first public bank owned by a city is being planned in Philadelphia, where its backers are hoping to create a systemic gamechanger for the racial wealth gap. 

In this episode of the podcast, Next City Executive Director Lucas Grindley talks with Senior Economics Correspondent Oscar Perry Abello about how public banking began in North Dakota and inspired numerous cities and states to consider launching similar ventures. Abello interviews Derek Green, the city council member championing Philadelphia’s version of a public bank.

Green says a public bank can support small businesses as “the greatest creator of jobs.” He sees a direct link between lagging business growth to “the fact that we have such a high poverty rate — the highest poverty rate for any large city in the nation.” 

“There's a real deficit for access to credit for Black and Brown businesses,” says Green. “We've seen studies from both the Census and from organizations here in the city of Philadelphia that showed how many Black and Brown businesses were really impacted by the pandemic who were not able to reopen. And even before the pandemic, there's been historical issues, systemic issues, that really impacted the ability of those businesses to grow.”

Listen to this episode below or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple and Spotify.

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