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Chinese American banks expansion key to San Gabriel Valley financial growth

The expansion of what is sometimes referred to as the "Asian Wall Street" in the San Gabriel Valley has brought in capital from China, helped the local economy weather the recession, and is even attracting local governments as customers, the Pasadena Star-News reports. 

"Many of them fared better during the recession than other parts of L.A. County," Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist for the Kyser Center for Economic Research, told the Star-News, referring to communities in the San Gabriel Valley. "I think there was something unusual that helped those communities and that certainly could be the capital coming from China."

The Star-News' Lauren Gold traces the growth of these banks to dozens in California today from the first one started in 1962, Cathay Bank. The late Wilbur Woo, who died recently at the age of 96, was among the founders. Since then, 80 have opened across the country, the National Association of Chinese American Bankers told the Star-News. Amongst those in the West San Gabriel Valley are EastWest Bank, Shanghai Commercial Bank, China Trust Bank, and the Bank of East Asia. 

Many are attracting non-Asian clients as well and are registered American companies. The Star-News reports that Alhambra's former redevelopment agency even had a line of credit with a local Chinese bank.

"You are dealing with a local institution and they know better the local economy, and it's much easier to deal with," Alhambra Chamber of Commerce President Mark Paulson told the Star-News. "When you say `Chinese bank,' you're not dealing with someone in China or Taiwan. Typically, the local directors, they are all right here."

Read the full article from the Star-News.

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