Issue: January/February 2012
Power 100: Paul Clark
Regional president of Northern Ohio and Cleveland, PNC
Paul Clark could’ve quietly faded into the background following National City’s integration with PNC in 2010. He had spent 35 years building his reputation in banking and civic involvement. But he took on a new challenge as the local face of the Pittsburgh-based financial services giant.
The pressure was on to prove that PNC would maintain National City’s business partnerships and philanthropy in Northeast Ohio. So there he was last February, standing in the atrium of Cleveland State University’s new student center, in front of hundreds of students, corporate and community leaders, announcing his bank’s $25,000 donation to the College Now Greater Cleveland scholarship program.
And that’s just one example. In November, Clark, 58, addressed a crowd of leaders at Windows on the River during the annual meeting of Invest in Children, a public-private early childhood development organization. He co-chairs its partnership committee.
PNC pledged $300,000 to Invest in Children in April last year and $3 million in grants to develop early childhood programs. These efforts are part of PNC’s $350 million childhood education and development program, Grow Up Great. It began in 2003, well before Clark’s tenure, but Clark now decides how to fulfill that charge here.
“We’ve had this incredible continuity of local leadership [between National City and PNC],” he says. “I underscore local, because that is what makes it work at PNC: We do business market-by-market.”
When PNC redesigned the former National City offices in downtown Cleveland, Clark successfully pushed for the meeting rooms to look out toward city neighborhoods where PNC has made significant investments, such as Detroit Shoreway and University Circle.
“That’s the secret,” Clark says. “You have to be local to engage the customer, and you have to be local to engage the community.”
It’s paying off: PNC ranked second among banks in local deposit volume in 2011, behind only Key Bank.
“Paul is one of Cleveland’s great ambassadors,” says Chris Ronayne, president of University Circle Inc., where Clark is vice chairman of the board of trustees. PNC has invested in a University Circle visitor center, a new Courtyard by Marriott hotel and the Circle East Townhomes near University Circle, in East Cleveland.
“Paul has emerged as one of Cleveland’s great leaders who knows how to put on a civic hat and get behind causes that matter for the region,” Ronayne says.
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