Brief: Placke picked to be CEO of soon-to-open Elm City community bank First City

After a search that began last September, the city has chosen William Placke as the new CEO of the soon-to-launch New Haven community bank, First City Funding Corp., the New Haven Independent reported on Monday. He began his tenure as president of the bank last week.

The First City Funding Corp. financed the creation of the Elm City ID, which was offered starting July 2007. The bank, along with other local establishments, will accept the Elm City Resident Card — which is available to all New Haven residents, regardless of age or immigration status — as a valid form of identification. Placke has voiced support for the card in the past.

Placke, who left his position as executive vice president of Bank of New York Mellon Corp. in New Jersey to accept the $180,000-a-year post, was chosen from a pool of about a dozen candidates who had been narrowed down to a shortlist of four people, President of the First City Board Mark Sklarz told the Independent.

The funding corporation began after state regulators mandated that the controversial NewAlliance bank — a publicly-owned version of the city’s now-dissolved local bank, New Haven Savings — allocate $25 million to a not-for-profit subsidiary.

First City is responsible for creating a “community-development bank,” a nonprofit entity meant to procure loans for small businesses and private homeowners in Elm City neighborhoods. The community bank engages in local lending, which has been in the news in recent months because of the city’s foreclosure crisis and the nation’s sub-prime-mortgage crunch.

The bank will fund projects in low-income neighborhoods or for minority residents who have found it difficult to secure loans elsewhere.

Jessica Bialecki ’08 — who assisted with the organization last fall of New Haven Solidarity Week, a partnership among Yale students, City Hall and community groups that promoted the Elm City ID — said she is excited that the bank has found a new president and that the city is taking steps to reach out to immigrant communities.

“[The bank] will increase the effects of the card and its benefits to residents,” she said.

Placke’s resume also includes stints as CEO at Centerbank in Waterbury, Conn., from 1992-1996 and Boston’s First Trade Union Bank from 1998-2001.

The search for a president for the community bank became more urgent after Chandler Howard, who was hired in spring 2006 to launch the bank by January 2008, abruptly left the project he had spearheaded for a new job as CEO of Liberty Bank in Middletown, Conn., in September.

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