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What one reporter found about neighborhood bank branches in Wisconsin

By Charles Benson,


Bank branches in neighborhoods can be key community partners. So why are so many disappearing in Wisconsin?

"We found that Wisconsin has one of the largest decreases over the period we studied," said Milwaukee Business Journal Reporter Sari Lesk.

The Flight of Banks newspaper story last fall looked at the number of bank branch closings from 2009-2021. Wisconsin made the top ten list with the biggest decrease in full-service bank branches.

Lesk talked about the report @ The Table Tuesday night on TMJ4.

"I think we've (Wisconsin) ranked number seven; it was more than 23%. So almost a quarter of the branches had closed in that time."

She found that kind of change can have an impact on the community - especially small businesses that rely on loans to start a business or help it grow.

"There have been studies about the relationship between the presence of branches and the amount of small business lending that would occur in that community," said Lesk. "People think about it sometimes as, what kind of signal does it send in a community when the bank is present, what does it show about investing in that community."

The in-depth report was part of a partnership with Marquette University, a public service fellowship that allowed Lesk to work with students on the project. Her reporting has since won a national journalism award.

You can watch the full conversation in the video at the top of this article.

Charles Benson and Shannon Sims interview key people in our community during TMJ4's @TheTable segment every weeknight at 10 p.m.

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