FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ICBA: Community Banks Keep Rural America Growing
April Is Community Banking Month
Washington, D.C. (April 16, 2012)—As the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), state and local governments, and community banks nationwide recognize April as Community Banking Month, the association is reminding everyone about the critical role community banks serve in supporting local farmers and agriculture. Community banks are able to serve as financial first responders to the agricultural community because they operate locally, putting local deposits back to work in their communities through loans to local farmers, residents and small businesses.
“Community banks are pivotal to the overall health and financial success of rural America as they provide an overwhelming share of credit to local farmers,” said Jeff Gerhart, ICBA chairman and chairman of Bank of Newman Grove, Neb. “Farmers are small business owners, and as small businesses ourselves, community banks across the nation are able to better serve their agricultural customers because they understand the agriculture business, their community and their market. In fact, my community bank has been serving farmers for well over 100 years. I couldn’t be more proud of the work that we and America’s community banks do to support rural America, one local loan at a time.”
Community banks have consistently been the largest provider of agricultural credit within the commercial banking sector and are often the catalysts for new and expanded business opportunities within their communities to ensure long-term economic viability and vitality. In fact, community banks with assets under $10 billion provide more than 75 percent of all commercial bank agricultural loans, and banks with assets less than $1 billion provide nearly 60 percent of all commercial bank agricultural financing.
Community banks often use government loan programs for housing, small business and farm loans to assist borrowers who would otherwise have difficulty obtaining commercial credit. Continuing these programs is vital for rural America.
“Community banks stimulate rural economies in a multitude of ways, including creating off-farm jobs, maintaining the local tax base and facilitating development of the infrastructure and public services necessary to keep rural communities vibrant,” Gerhart said. “Community Banking Month is wonderful because it gives us an opportunity to thank our agricultural customers and show them our unwavering support.”
States, local governments, and community banks recognize Community Banking Month. Each year, thousands of community banks partner with local charities to host special events, while others promote economic development initiatives. Many community banks traditionally mark the month by highlighting their community service or financial education programs.
To find your 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.