April was Community Banking Month and banks everywhere highlighted what makes them stand out. In prior years, First National Bank participated in the 3/50 Project and all bank employees pledged to spend locally during the month of April.
This year, the Bank decided to highlight one of the primary things that makes us a community bank: community involvement. Because all of our employees live within the Bank’s market area, they are all personally invested in seeing their towns and cities thrive. And as a result, they are all VERY willing to volunteer their time and energy to people and organizations that need help. We decided to keep track of their involvement to highlight what makes our Bank different. Here are the results of their voluntary efforts through the first quarter of 2013: 47 employees volunteered at 183 different events and collectively spent 625 hours investing in their communities.
“Community” can be an over-used word these days, but the efforts of this group exemplify what community banking truly represents.
Black Friday has come and gone and retailers hopefully had a great start to their holiday season. Big stores like Wal Mart, Macys, and Best Buy had their day yesterday. And now today is Small Business Saturday, where the real shopping starts. According to the Small Business Administration, 2 out of every 3 jobs is created by a small business. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the United States and are especially important to keeping communities vibrant in places like Bluffton, Pandora, and Findlay. So, get in the spirit and support your local small businesses on Small Business Saturday and every other chance you get!
In 2009, a business owner in Minneapolis, Minnesota, tried to encourage locals to support locally and independently owned businesses by starting an initiative called the 3/50 project. The initiative took off and today the project has spread all over the United States.
The premise is simple. Pick 3 local, independent businesses and spend a total of $50 between them over the course of a month. According to The 3/50 Project, of every $100 spent in locally owned stores, $68 remains in the local economy. In contrast, only $43 of every $100 remains local when spent in national chains, and little or no local revenue results from online purchases.
This is the sort of effort that makes a community great. If people are inspired to think and spend locally, then they ultimately benefit themselves by improving the quality of life where they live.
Many community banks celebrate Community Banking Month (April) by doing something to celebrate the connection between Bank and Community, because without a strong community, these banks would not be successful. First National Bank is celebrating the month by participating in the 3/50 Project. Every FNB employee has committed to participating in the initiative during the month of April to commemorate Community Banking Month. Even though many of the Bank employees already spend well in excess of $50 locally every month, the exercise is useful because it reminds people why the process is important.
Feel free to check out the project online and consider making the 3/50 Project part of your monthly routine.
If you have a child, grandchild, niece, nephew, neighbor kid, young sibling or youthful acquaintance, it is not too late for any of them to visit any of our branches and pick up a youth business kit. Between now and June 26 the kits are available for youth with a savings account at the bank. In Bluffton, the first 50 youth can get a free poster board to advertise their lemonade stand or other business enterprise. There are still poster boards available but they are going fast. The Bank is planning to advertise and encourage the community to come out and support its young entrepreneurs on the 26th. This is a great chance to get youth excited about saving, earning, and being responsible with money. At the very least make sure you are nice and thirsty on the 26th!
First, a brief history to get this blog started…I didn’t really plan to be a banker. I stumbled onto the scene and ultimately have a group of angry “soccer moms” to thank for landing my first banking job. My career path can probably be chalked up to poor career planning. Graduating with my undergraduate English degree at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana, did not steer me in a particular direction, and I didn’t spend enough time in the Career Development Center to come out of school with a good plan. Mike Baker, who was President of Madison Community Bank in Anderson in 2002, saw me surrounded by angry parents at a local soccer tournament I was helping to coordinate. He apparently thought I handled the heated exchange well enough to also calm down potentially disgruntled bank clients and said if I ever needed a job to apply at Madison Community. Because of my aforementioned career planning, I did eventually find my way to the bank during my senior year and the rest really is history.
I spent four years learning the basics of banking. My job titles included teller, customer service representative, Manager in Training, Branch Manager, and Commercial Lender. I accepted customer deposits, opened new accounts, made consumer and commercial loans, and as a manager supervised a modest branch staff. I worked full-time at six different branches in three different towns over the course of four years. I learned from some great community bankers including Mike Baker, Senior Lender Kirk Klabunde, and once retired John May, who will probably never officially retire again.
In 2006, I moved back home to Bluffton, Ohio, and began working at First National Bank of Pandora as a Commercial Lender. I typically serve small businesses in Bluffton and the surrounding communities. It was probably at this point that I began to embrace the mentality of a community banker. I am personally invested in the community and I want to see Bluffton grow and continue to be a great place to live and raise a family. Although my wife, Renee, and I never planned to return to Bluffton, we’re glad we did. I have enjoyed coming back to my hometown and seeing it from a fresh perspective. It is inspiring to see how local entrepreneurs have contributed to the growth and prosperity of Bluffton, and working closely with small business has given me an even greater appreciation for the commitment shown by these individuals. Even though the part I play as a banker was and is relatively small, working with local business owners and seeing them grow and succeed is very rewarding and continues to be one of the best parts of my community banking career.
This weekly blog will hopefully paint an accurate picture of community banking, both locally and across the industry and will give me a chance to share banking insights, helpful tips, First National Bank activities, and hopefully some entertaining reading.