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FIRST FIDELITY ANNOUNCES NEW $500 MILLION COMMUNITY INVESTMENT PROGRAM

 PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 20 ~PRNewswire~ -- First Fidelity Bancorporation (NYSE: FFB), parent company of Fidelity Bank of Philadelphia, First Fidelity Bank of South Jersey, and the Merchants Banks of Allentown and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., announced today that it has committed a total of $500 million over the next three years to community investment programs targeted to low- and moderate-income customers.
 This strategic initiative encompasses both retail and wholesale products and services, including a community outreach effort called the Urban Banker Program and a service, the Mortgage Help Desk, designed to help low- and moderate-income homebuyers apply for a mortgage -- in some cases with government assistance.
 "First Fidelity has a major and continuing commitment to its communities," Tony Terracciano, chairman and chief executive officer, said. "We understand that our growth and continued viability as a banking company depend on our ability to build mutually beneficial relationships with the communities in which our customers live and work.
 "Community investment is part and parcel of the social contract that exists between a bank and the communities it serves," Terracciano continued. "It is one of our key responsibilities as a good corporate citizen -- and, not incidentally, it is good business. We draw strength as a banking institution from the vitality of the communities we serve. Our investment in our communities, therefore, is the right thing to do in both a moral and a business sense."
 All components of the program will be available throughout eastern Pennsylvania and all of New Jersey, First Fidelity said, with special attention provided urban communities. First Fidelity is the largest banking company in New Jersey.
 Roland K. Bullard II, president and chief executive officer of Fidelity Bank, explained that the Mortgage Help Desk is designed to provide professional assistance via telephone to low- and moderate- income homebuyers. The assistance, Bullard said, can take two forms: providing would-be homebuyers advice about government programs for which they may qualify and that make mortgage credit more accessible; and walking applicants through the First Fidelity mortgage application process, providing assistance in completing the documents.
 Bullard said First Fidelity was aggressively marketing both conventional mortgage products as well as a discounted mortgage product designed to meet the needs of low- and moderate-income homebuyers, particularly in urban areas.
 Other components of the program, according to Bullard, include: loans to such public sector borrowers as hospitals and large non-profit institutions; public finance underwritings in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey; SBA lending; conventional small business lending with special focus on urban areas, and lending through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
 Kenneth H. Thorn, executive vice president and head of Consumer Banking for First Fidelity, also announced that the company was introducing two new services targeted at low- and moderate-income customers, a secured credit card and a discount savings account.
 The secured credit card, a Visa card, Thorn explained, will help people without a credit history enjoy the convenience of a credit card while simultaneously building a credit history that later will provide them access to more conventional personal credit products, including home mortgages. To obtain the Visa card, the customer maintains a dedicated statement savings account and has access through the card to 90 percent of the account balance. The minimum deposit is $445.
 The discount savings account gives customers the opportunity to maintain a reasonably low balance account without fees. This product supplements First Fidelity's Student Saver and Mature Saver Accounts.
 The Urban Banker program, Thorn said, involves 42 specialists from the retail branch system who will be responsible for conducting outreach programs in the communities the bank serves and making available to organizations, as well as individuals, the bank's array of products and services.
 "Our goal in the community reinvestment area is to exceed legal requirements," Terracciano said. "We want to do more than just meet the credit and deposit needs of our communities. We want to add value to them within the framework of safe and sound banking principles."
 First Fidelity, with more than 550 offices in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, is one of the 25 largest banking companies in the United States.
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 ~CONTACT: Paul J. Levine, 215-985-8117, or Barbara A. Nate, 215-985-7003, both of First Fidelity Bancorporation~
 (FFB)


CO: First Fidelity Bancorporation ST: Pennsylvania, New Jersey IN: FIN SU: PDT

MK-MJ -- PH012 -- 3463 11~20~92 15:05 EST
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Date:Nov 20, 1992
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