The nation was mired in the Great Depression in 1933 when Jesse Mitchell and his friends and business associates came together to do what only a few black entrepreneurs before them had done: establish a new bank to serve their community. Their ambitious
plan required an act of Congress, but by the end of the year, the federal government had approved the group’s plan to sell $50,000 in stock to finance the Bank. By April 1, 1934, more than 95 percent of the stock had been sold. The new bank –
to be called Industrial Bank of Washington-received its certificate of incorporation from the US Treasury Department on August 13, 1934. The Bank opened on August 20, 1934, with 6 employees and $192,000 in assets. Jesse Mitchell served as President until
his passing in 1955.
When Benson Doyle Mitchell assumed the presidency in December 1954, it had become the largest black-owned bank in the country. With assets totaling $7 million, Industrial remained the only black bank in the nation’s
capital. Doyle was always proud that he did not just step into his father’s business at the top. After a year of graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Doyle joined his father full time at Industrial.
He took great pride in the fact that, even as the heir apparent, he started in an entry-level bookkeeping position and worked his way up. Under Doyle’s steady leadership, Industrial grew significantly and continued to expand its customer base. Part
of the bank’s growth included partnering with other minority banks to provide “participation loans” to major corporations, such as Walt Disney, which had pledged a certain amount of its business to minority-owned financial institutions.
Continuing the legacy his grandfather and father laid before him, B. Doyle Mitchell Jr., had been educated at private, public, and parochial schools and had spent summers in various departments of the bank since he was 16. But the larger lessons
had come from watching his father-his integrity, his humility, and his compassion. After his father’s passing in 1993, B. Doyle Mitchell, Jr., 30 years old and then vice president of commercial lending, was enthusiastically appointed by the board
as president. Through his leadership, Industrial Bank now has over half billion in assets, over 140 employees, branches in Washington, DC, Prince Georges County, MD Newark, NJ, Harlem, NY, and an Innovation Campus in Largo MD. Three generations of leadership,
perseverance, humility, gratitude, and an unwavering commitment to the community.
*Excerpts from the book, “Images of America - Industrial Bank”. The book is sold in each branch.