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Eastern Bank and Mayor of Lawrence join El Mundo in an unprecedented collaboration to showcase the feel-good stories of a community.

Eastern Bank is the primary partner and supporter of “Viva Lawrence”, a unique partnership between El Mundo Newspaper and the Mayor of Lawrence Dan Rivera. This partnership’s goal is to forge an unprecedented collaboration aimed at raising the collective spirit and image of a community via a series of consistent positive news coverage and heartfelt feel-good stories chronicling the inspiring lives of the area’s hard working citizens.

In this edition, we present the first in a series of “Viva Lawrence” profiles on Eastern Bank employees who are optimistic about the future of Lawrence.  This week, El Mundo profiles Pedro Arce, Vice President of Business Banking for Eastern Bank.  Arce arrives at Eastern Bank from Veritas Bank, where he served as president and CEO, and TD Bank, where he worked as a community and economic development manager.

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By Tim Estiloz

25_Pedro ArceHow do you describe what you do at eastern bank ?

I’m a Vice President in the business banking group, which is a hybrid of small business lending and small commercial real estate lending. My primary function is to cover the Merrimack Valley, but really with a focus on Lawrence and a list of clients I’ve had since I’ve been a banker.  I’ve been in the banking business for 24 years.

What do you enjoy the most about your job ?

Helping small business owners and helping communities by working with non-profit organizations. That’s really my passion.  I love how you can leverage banking to really help communities. That grassroots approach builds loyalty in the community.

How have people responded to the branch in downtown lawrence ?

People in Lawrence have responded extremely well. I think people were surprised that Eastern Bank was actually opening up in Lawrence and then excited. I was once with a group that was trying to start a bank, a Veritas Bank back in 2008, and we got very close.  The reason we were trying to start a bank was because Lawrence was the only Massachusetts city that didn’t have a community bank which was unusual. We thought we could fill that gap, but because of the recession, we weren’t able to get it going.  Later, Eastern Bank came in and approached me about the potential in Lawrence and asked if I would be interested in helping them and I said yes.  Since then, we’ve made tremendous progress in the community.

Why is it important for eastern bank to be so involved in the lawrence community ?

It’s been their mission ever since they started.  If you dissect where Eastern Bank is located, many of their branches are in Gateway cities.  They’re comfortable being in Chelsea or East Boston.  They’re comfortable being in Jamaica Plain and Lowell.  Their operations center is in Lynn, another Gateway city.  That’s where most of our employees sit, so it just makes sense from a mission point of view.  You can be the nicest person and bank in the world, but it has to make financial sense and I think Eastern Bank did their research and homework and realized that there’s a great opportunity in Lawrence; not only to help the community, but also to be profitable.

What kind of impact has the bank had on the community ?

The main impact has been getting capital out to business owners. I personally have closed at least a handful of loans to businesses downtown that probably wouldn’t have received funding or lending before. Also, we have a very robust foundation.  The bank actually gives ten percent of it’s revenue back into the foundation and then donates those funds out into the community.  There aren’t too many non-profits in Lawrence that haven’t been touched beneficially by Eastern’s foundation.  So, strictly from a reinvestment point of view, that’s something that the city hasn’t had before from a bank at our level.  The foundation has helped many of Lawrence’s school programs, non-profits that are building affordable housing and much more.

How excited are you about the future of lawrence

I grew up in Lawrence and I’ve been excited about it’s future for awhile now.  In the past, it seemed there always was an opportunity that was squandered.  But I think with Eastern Bank making a bold statement by opening up their branch and you see local businesses opening up and staying open, then I think the potential in Lawrence is tremendous. To participate  to some degree in the city’s revitalization is definitely a memorable experience.

What do you think of when you hear the term “Viva Lawrence”?

I think of young people. The future of Lawrence is in the hands of young people who are out there trying to do the right thing.  I’ve seen them come together in a way that I’ve never seen before and share ideas.  They’re running for office and they’re starting businesses and they’re hungry for knowledge.  So when I think of Viva Lawrence, I think about the young adults making an impact. I think it’s very exciting.

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