Bank of America To Abandon Needles

(September 14)  NEEDLES—Bank of America will be making an exodus from the county’s smallest city, which lies on the extreme end of San Bernardino County on California’s  east coast at the banks of the Colorado River along the border with Arizona.
The closure of the bank will further force Needles, which boasts a population of 4,830, into the commercial and financial trade area within Arizona known as the “Miracle Mile” which actually extends 20 miles along Arizona’s Highway 95 and includes Bermuda Valley, Mohave Valley, the Mesa, Willow Valley, Fort Mohave and Bullhead City.
Bank of America’s closure in Needles is being precipitated by the ending of its lease for the building space it occupies at 1001 W. Broadway on February 28, 2013.
Notices to Bank of America customers in Needles will be sent out in middle to late November.
Contributing to the closure decision was a substantial decline in banking at the Needles institution, bank officials said. Bank of America indicated it would keep a full service ATM in operation to provide existing customers with deposit, withdrawal, transfer and account monitoring services.
After Bank of America leaves, the closest thing left to a bank remaining in Needles will be the local Desert Communities Federal Credit Union.
Needles City Manager David Brownlee told the Sentinel, “We are saddened and disappointed with the news that the bank is vacating this market. It is yet another indication that small communities are of little consequence to large money-center banks. Small banks cannot compete with them and credit unions are hamstrung by not being able to perform commercial lending. They have done everything in their power to create a market monopoly in Needles that shuts down smaller competitors and then they perpetrate the final indignity of vacating this market.”
Brownlee said that key city officials pleaded with Bank of America to reconsider its decision to no avail. “The director of finance and staff had a conference call with Patrick Kamachi, vice president and treasury solution officer with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Los Angeles,” Brownlee said. “He said that the decision to vacate is irrevocable.”
Brownlee said that decision will be an inconvenience to some local residents and a hardship on others. “The real disservice that Bank of America will visit on the community is that it will financially strand those low income and senior citizen customers who do not have an automobile or are so infirm that they cannot drive the 32-mile round trip to Ft. Mohave, Arizona to bank at the in-store Bank of America branch within Smith’s Supermarket.  There is no public transportation from Needles to Ft. Mohave.”
Bank of America has branches in Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City. Chase Bank has a branch in Mohave Valley.
The city of Needles currently uses Bank of America to do its banking. The closure of the Needles branch will impose complications for the city, as well.

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