Monday, January 4, 2010

A Sort Of New Year's Resolution

The posting below was taken from an email sent by me on January 1, 2010, to Bank stakeholders.  I thought I would also share it here since it contains some information worth sharing.

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When I joined Pan American Bank in June, I stated that I wanted to make Pan American Bank THE bank of East Los Angeles. Having been born in Boyle Heights and raised in East L.A., I jumped at the opportunity to come back to East Los with the tools I had acquired working around the country. The bulletpoints above are not new year's resolutions because they will not be accomplished in one year. They are, however, goals that I have established for the Bank to work on. Not by itself, but in collaboration with others in the community. We're a very small bank...but with the right partnerships we can create tremendous change.

I know you are busy and have little time for touchy-feely e-mails such as this. But please indulge me for three minutes as I share what 2010 will bring to East Los Angeles from Pan American Bank's perspective.

1) In January,, a new media nonprofit focused on getting Latino youth into college and keeping them there until graduation, will be moving into Pan American Bank's corporate headquarters. The Bank will be donating a portion of its space to permit to tape and broadcast its shows. The Bank will host a Open House Celebration on Friday, February 5, 2010, from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. RSVP to Tony Ramirez if you did not receive an e-mail invitation.

2) VELA: January brings a second nonprofit to Pan American Bank. VELA, an East Los Angeles-based powerhouse nonprofit, will be operating a technical assistance center from the Bank's headquarters. The program will provide technical assistance to both nonprofits and small businesses. This effort will be a collaboration between not only VELA and Pan American Bank, but many other organizations that will bring essential resources to bear.

3) Institute for Nonprofit Leadership: Pan American Bank, VELA and the Riordan Volunteer Leadership Development Program will launch in September 2010 the Institute for Nonprofit Leadership. The Institute for Nonprofit Leadership will train young professionals from eastern Los Angeles County on how to serve as leaders of nonprofits, with a focus on serving on nonprofits located in eastern Los Angeles County. The Riordan program has been extremely successful with participants from downtown and the westside and will now collaborate with Pan American Bank and VELA to roll out a similar program at the Bank's corporate headquarters in East Los Angeles.

4) Financial Services Advisory Council of East Los Angeles: In January the Bank will kick of its Financial Services Advisory Council of East Los Angeles ("FSAC-ELA"). The role of the FSAC-ELA will be to bring together local stakeholders to develop strategies that address the shortcomings cited in the FDIC's recent Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households. As the only bank headquartered in East Los Angeles, Pan American Bank is taking a leadership role in working with the offices of elected officials, nonprofits and residents, to bring mainstream banking services to as many East Los Angeles households as possible. The FSAC-ELA will be comprised of representatives from throughout the East Los Angeles community.

5) UCLA School of Urban Planning: At the end of this email is an e-mail to me from Raul Lugo. Raul is a graduate student in the UCLA School of Urban Planning. Raul will graduate in June. He and a team of classmates have formed a company that will be attacking some of the issues we face in East Los Angeles. Raul and his associates will bring to East Los Angeles energy, enthusiasm and a new set of eyes. When I was fresh out of UCLA someone took a chance on me and provided me with the mentorship that helped me succeed in my professional career. I hope to do the same. But more than that, I encourage you to read his email and engage him in thought provoking discussion. Only through such discussion will issues and challenges surface and get worked out. If the Bank has any shot at achieving the goals above, it will only come through collaboration.

There is much more in the works but I'll save that for another day. While 2009 was a challenging year for banks, it also provided tremendous opportunities. As a bank we have a lot of work ahead of us. Just the daily challenge of bringing in new deposits and making new loans is enough to fill our plates. But Pan American Bank is not just any bank. It has a mission that is unique and a story that needs to be told if we are to be THE BANK OF EAST LOS ANGELES.

Before I conclude, I would like to publicly congratulate the team at Pan American Bank. In 2009, the Bank did not foreclose on a single borrower and in 2008 it had only one foreclosure. While the Bank did modify some loans, the Bank's goal was to do everything possible to keep our customers in their homes. We don't know what 2010 will bring but we look to have similar successes this time next year.

Best wishes to you all in 2010. On behalf of the employees, shareholders and customers of Pan American Bank, Thank You for your continued support. May all of our goals be achieved this year so that we can look back on this year with a smile.

Jesse Torres
President and CEO
Pan American Bank
3626 East First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90063
(323) 264-3310
(323) 264-8057 fax

"The mission of Pan American Bank is to transform and empower Latino communities through banking relationships built on trust, service, respect, communication, and guidance."

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: raul lugo
Date: Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 8:14 PM
Subject: New Year Resolution


We will create a movement with inventive and diverse approaches to the rebuilding of our community. This will be done through targeted investments, which will need to be meticulously and assertively planned for success due to the present scarcity of resources. Our efforts are aimed to creatively effect change in East Los Angeles. These investments will be made in a broad range of areas such as housing, small business formation and development, and economic development at large.

Investors look first for the formal investment targets due to their familiarity. The traditional channels offer a formal infrastructure friendly to business that simply does not exist in the inner cities of America. As a result, these communities suffer from diminished services and struggling institutions. Private investment in these communities often comes from the people who live there themselves. These entrepreneurial ventures emerge as a result of necessity due to the lack of support and disinterest from mainstream investment. The goal is to identify many investment targets with a strong potential for profits. We need to create a new paradigm of profitable, sound and constructive investments outside of traditional channels. We need strong leaders who have decided that they will take the chance with us and place their valuable investment in this energetic community.

We are currently learning the limits of government involvement. California faces bankruptcy amidst the worst budget crisis, and public funds are simply insufficient to meet the needs of the population. The aid and subsidies that trickles down through a complicated bureaucratic process is proving to be ineffective. This means our team will have to shift the level of sophistication and inventiveness to be the group that seeks investments for the community of East Los Angeles.

The business sector is an integral partner in the economic development of East Los Angeles. As grants and donations diminish in economic downturns like the one we are experiencing, agencies that seek to fill gaps in services need to tap into their entrepreneurial capabilities to survive. Financial institutions are of particular importance because they need to broaden their perspective on the types of investments they are willing to consider. Promoting small business creation, we can create sound and profitable deals, even with people who have little or no education about conventional business establishments. In this process, we will need to inform the population about the importance of civic participation to build transparency, and trust through dialogue between different community stakeholders that would have otherwise never exchanged ideas with one another. We will harness a conscious smart growth movement in East Los Angeles to make the United States free enterprise system responsive to the needs of the community by building a resilient and sustainable network to support new enterprises.

Happy new year, let's make it a good one.



  1. Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

  2. Henry, you are so right. Something I have come to recognize and appreciate since coming to Pan American Bank is the local vendor. Whether it is the bakery next door, the hamburger joint a block away or the mom and pop hardware store. These are the businesses and people that make up the fabric of our communities. Yes, I understand the need for selection and price. But I have also come to appreciate the need for these businesses. They are the ones supporting local events and having their voices heard in city council meetings. In our rush we often overlook these folks. Let's do a little something to support them when it makes sense.

    On a related point, a couple months ago I walked down the boulevard where our headquarters is located. I walked over six miles one afternoon popping in on the vendors. A couple things happened. First, they could not believe that the CEO of the local bank just popped in. But more importantly I learned what my local community's businesses have to offer.

    It is too easy to lose touch with our community. We need to make the effort to keep in touch and support the small and medium sized businesses every now and then to ensure that they remain a part of the fabric of our communities.