I recently teamed up with the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) to help them launch their Go Local initiative and encourage consumers to join the “Go Local” movement by choosing to bank locally with a community bank. By banking with a community bank, consumers can make a real difference in the lives of their neighbors and the future of their community.
Buying local is something that I’ve always tried to do in order to keep my dollars local, support my local community, cut down on the transportation of goods, and for health reasons when it comes to food. But doing it for my banking needs was never something I gave much thought to…until recently.
It turns out, ICBA is the organization that represents more than 5,000 community banks around the nation. And they’re no small potatoes. Those 5,000 banks include more than 23,000 locations nationwide and employ more than 280,000 Americans. ICBA members hold more than $1 trillion in assets, $900 billion in deposits, and $700 billion in loans to consumers, small businesses and the agricultural community.
And there’s a whole slew of good that comes from banking locally:
- Whether located in small towns, suburbia or big-city neighborhoods, community banks help fuel local economies by funding nearly 60 percent of all small businesses under $1 million.
- Community banks keep their customers’ money close to home by taking deposits from local individuals and businesses and lending that money to local borrowers. Community banks use local dollars to help families purchase homes, buy a car, finance college and build financial security.
- Community banks specialize in “relationship banking.” They put a huge emphasis on getting to know their customers and their financial needs because banking should be a personal experience rather than a transactional process. Because most community bankers live within the communities they serve, customers are treated like neighbors, not numbers.
I can attest to that. Last week I had a check I needed to deposit. In the past when I needed to make a deposit into my business checking account, I would fill out a deposit form and mail the check to my bank, which was located in some other state. This time, I simply stepped out my front door and walked my check up the few blocks to my bank, pushing my little Silvia in her stroller while she pointed out birds and trees and “I see blue” as she looked at the sky. I was greeted with a sunny hello as we came in the door. There was coffee brewing and cookies on a platter. The ladies “oohed” and “aahed” over Silvia (what mom doesn’t love that?!) and we were on our way again in less than 3 minutes.
Plenty of time to spare to pop in a shop across the street for a gift for a girlfriend. Gotta love that for buying local all around!
You can find your local community bank, visit ICBA’s community bank locator at www.banklocally.org. Simply type in your zip code and the app will show you all the community banks in your area. You can even download free ICBA locator apps for your iPhone, Android or Blackberry.