Reaching out

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

Like many of his peers in the banking industry, Tri City National Bank assistant vice president Patricio Iligaray’s resume lists several years of management experience, commercial lending experience and an MBA.
However, unlike many of his peers, especially in Milwaukee, Iligaray is a native of Chile and is uniquely skilled to serve the city’s Hispanic business community.
Iligaray moved to the United States in 1997 to further his education. After completing his MBA at Edgewood College in Madison, he was hired by Bank of America to oversee one of 50 branches the company was opening in Chicago.
The staff at Iligaray’s branch in downtown Chicago was bilingual. He estimated that 99 percent of the employees spoke both English and Spanish. The branch also featured brochures, handouts, magazines and other literature in both languages.
"It was a huge statement from a bank to open a branch with that profile," Iligaray said.
Running the branch was a challenge for Iligaray, demanding a lot of his time and energy. Iligaray said the task got to be a bit too much for him, taking him away from his family too much and actually separating him from the Hispanic community he wanted to serve.
Even though he was having success with the Bank of America position, he needed to make a change.
While he was pondering his next move, he reflected back to his time in Wisconsin, where he worked as a student at the Capital Square branch of US Bank in Madison.
"I like Wisconsin, but I also like the big city, so Milwaukee was the perfect city when I did my research," Iligaray said. "The Hispanic (community) is a very fast-growing community. When you drive down National Avenue or Mitchell Street, there are a lot of businesses."
In February 2004, Iligaray interviewed with high-ranking officials with Tri City National Bank in Oak Creek. During the interview, they talked not only about Iligaray, his background and what he could bring to the bank, but also about the bank’s purpose as a community bank.
"The purpose of a community bank is to serve the community," Iligaray said. "Our focus is on the community and small-business people."
Although many banks have targeted the Hispanic community for checking and savings accounts, Iligaray said the Latino businesses have not received the same level of outreach.
Tri City National Bank had bankers prepared to connect with other ethnic groups in Milwaukee, such as African-Americans, the Hmong, Greeks, Serbians and other minorities.
"But they were missing one piece with the Hispanic community," Iligaray said.
Iligaray has been working in the Milwaukee market for a little more than one year, but he believes Tri City National Bank has made significant progress toward increasing commercial lending for the Hispanic business community. The work has included refinancing land contracts, helping fund the purchases of commercial buildings and providing financing for working capital needs.
By working with groups such as the Hispanic Entrepreneur Center, run through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Small Business Development Center, the National Society of Hispanic MBAs and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, Iligaray and Tri City are reaching out.
Iligaray also works as an ad-hoc business counselor with the UWM program’s Business Development Course. The 10-week class is designed to help potential entrepreneurs develop a business plan they can take to a bank to be considered for commercial loans.
"It’s counseling, coaching, telling them how the real world works, teaching the philosophy of thinking as an entrepreneur," Iligaray said.
In addition, Iligaray is applying to become a member of the board for the Skylight Opera Theatre.
"You have to outreach, connect and be able to network in really strong organizations," Iligaray said. "The only real way to make a difference is to be a liaison between the two communities. If you don’t build a bridge between the community and the real source of money and networking and the real players in the city, if you just sit at your desk all day long, people will still be isolated."
Iligaray also spends time – and money – in the community he is trying to reach.
"You have to believe in them," Iligaray said. "That’s Business Relations 101 class material. It’s like a basic relationship with a friend."

March 18, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display