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Price Hill bank is Cincinnati's first - and Ohio's second - Minority Depository Institution

Warsaw Federal President & CEO Robie K. Suggs
Tasha Pinelo Photography
Warsaw Federal President & CEO Robie K. Suggs

After several months of planning and reorganizing, Warsaw Federal Savings & Loan in Price Hill is transitioning to a Minority Depository Institution. The change doesn't affect existing customers, but newly appointed President and CEO Robie Suggs says the designation is important for the community surrounding the bank.

A Minority Depository Institution (MDI) is defined by the FDIC as either having 51% or more of the voting stock owned owned by minority individuals; or a majority of the board of directors is minority and the community that the institution serves is predominantly minority. In a release, Warsaw Federal explains an MDI as "a community-based bank that provides enhanced financial services, tools, and education to promote economic opportunity and financial equity and help community members invest in the community's success."

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Warsaw Federal recently expanded its board of directors to reflect majority-minority representation. With the hiring of Suggs, it is also now Black-led. Warsaw Federal is the second MDI in Ohio behind Adelphi Bank in Columbus, which became the nation's 21st Black-owned bank in May 2023.

"An MDI is an organization that has a focus on minorities, not just Black people, any minority ... all are welcome," Suggs tells WVXU. "This focus allows us to be more specific and targeted to support underserved areas. With Warsaw's headquarters being located in Price Hill, it's a perfect place for us to be. We're already known in the community, so it's just good for us to get this designation."

As an MDI, Suggs says the bank will be able to attract additional investments and work with larger financial institutions who agree to work with MDIs with work those banks wouldn't be able to do on their own. Warsaw Federal will also be able to get funds and support from government sources and other foundations looking to work with MDIs specifically.

"It's a way for us to find different products and services that more uniquely fit the consumers that we support," Suggs adds.

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Warsaw Federal has two locations — one in Price Hill and another in Sayler Park — and has two bilingual (Spanish) employees. Customers can also access Allpoint ATMs.

Suggs says the bank expects to do a lot more lending; a third of its lending must be to minorities. Listening sessions are also being planned to find out which services might be most beneficial to customers.

"We can't presume that we know exactly what somebody needs for their day-to-day, so we need to ask those questions: 'Why did you go to the payday lender? What about that draws you in the door? How can we (help) you keep more of your money in your pocket so that you don't have to use those sources as your bank?' Those are the kinds of things that I think are really important to understand."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.