Central Bank of the Midwest signs nearly $4M deal to become official bank of KU, plans to open branch in Kansas Union

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Central Bank of the Midwest's main Lawrence branch at 300 W. Ninth Street is pictured on June 7, 2022.

A Missouri-based bank has reached a nearly $4 million deal to become the official bank of the University of Kansas.

Central Bank of the Midwest, which has multiple locations in Lawrence and throughout the Kansas City metro region, will become KU’s “community banking partner” on Aug. 1, KU announced on Tuesday.

The deal — valued at $3.9 million for KU and its affiliates over seven years — will involve Central Bank opening a branch inside the Kansas Union and also will allow the bank to use the university’s brand name to launch a “Jayhawk Checking” program for customers.

Behind the scenes, the deal involves Central providing commercial banking services to KU, including transaction, information and investment services that will be used by KU financial officers who manage the university budget and other fiscal affairs.

“In helping us align not only the university’s treasury services but those of our affiliates, we will see greater efficiency going forward,” Jeff DeWitt, KU’s chief financial officer, said via a release. “Central Bank of the Midwest’s position as a strong regional leader in financial services gives us the confidence that we will have a strong partner to enact our financial strategies.”

KU chose Central Bank of the Midwest after conducting a request for proposals from banks and financial institutions interested in partnering with the university. KU didn’t release details on how many banks applied as part of the process, which was run by Jayhawk Community Partners. That is a growing division of KU, which oversees partnerships with organizations like Pepsi, Starbucks and other national chains that already do business on the KU campus. The Jayhawk Community Partners division also is expected to run KU’s efforts to become a major player in hosting conferences, camps, conventions and other such events on KU’s Lawrence campus and its Edwards Campus in Johnson County.

KU is hoping to grow conferences and events into a multimillion-dollar revenue stream. But it also intends to do deals like this one with Central Bank and other companies who are wanting to benefit from the nearly 40,000 students and staff at KU’s campuses, plus more than 350,000 alumni, according to figures touted by Jayhawk Community Partners.

As part of the seven-year deal, Central Bank of the Midwest is expected to provide support for scholarships, internships, emergency aid, campus events, financial literacy programming, employee services and other campus initiatives, according to a press release from KU.

“In seeking a financial services provider, the University of Kansas sought a true partner that would add value to our university community,” David Hayob, director of Jayhawk Community Partners, said via a release. “Central Bank of the Midwest stepped up as a truly integrated universitywide partner by providing support in financial aid and education to our students, faculty and staff along with a comprehensive messaging and activation program to promote financial wellness and the overall partnership across all of KU.”

In picking Central Bank of the Midwest for its banking partner, KU chose an institution whose parent company is headquartered in Jefferson City, Missouri. But Central also has a Lawrence connection, in that the bank’s local branches previously were part of Douglas County Bank, which was a locally owned and family-owned bank until the Beach family sold it to outside interests in 2014.

Central Bank of the Midwest is also family owned. It is controlled by the Cook family, which started in the banking industry in Missouri in 1905 and has kept the bank in the family ever since, according to the company’s website. Central Bank of the Midwest is their bank division that focuses on Lawrence and the greater Kansas City area, with banks in Douglas and Johnson counties on the Kansas side of the line and banks throughout the Missouri side of the metro, including Belton, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Smithville and others.

But the Cook family also has about a dozen other banks that operate under a version of the Central Bank name, with most of those in Missouri. Those include Central Bank of Boone County, which includes Columbia,; Central Bank of Branson; Central Bank of Jefferson City; Central Bank of St. Louis; Central Bank of the Ozarks and several others.

“As a community bank, we share in KU’s commitment to develop strong and sustainable communities, so when this partnership opportunity presented itself, we knew it aligned with our strategic vision,” said Bill Ferguson, president and CEO of Central Bank of the Midwest. “By combining resources, we can positively impact not only the Lawrence and Kansas City communities, but all those who benefit from the education, enrichment and legacy of the KU experience.”


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