No small change: FirstMerit's proposed sale could have impact beyond banking

Posted 1.28.2016

by Amanda Garrett
Akron Beacon Journal staff writer

Other than blue FirstMerit signs coming down and green Huntington signs going up, bank customers might not notice much difference when the proposed sale of Akron’s historic bank goes through.

They’ll still see some familiar faces at bank branches, even if the locations are reshuffled. And much of FirstMerit’s flagship ­— the white, 28-story, art-deco tower completed in 1931— will remain dedicated to banking, at least for now.

But local banking and economic development observers said changes are coming for an area that has for generations depended on FirstMerit and its many iterations for more than 100 years.

The demise of FirstMerit, they said, could affect everything from high-wage jobs and economic development to the arts and homeless shelters.

William Mahnic, who teaches banking and finance at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, said cities like Akron with bank headquarters benefit in several ways.

Employees with the highest paid jobs are usually based at headquarters, spending some of their money in the city and kicking a portion of their wages to its tax base.


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