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ICBA: Community Banks Vital to National Economy

Community Banking Month Celebrated during April

Washington, D.C. (April 7, 2008)—The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) - as part of the annual celebration of Community Banking Month in April - is leading a chorus of community banks nationwide asserting that community banks are vital to the nation and its economic health.

"The local community banker understands community needs and can make quick decisions regarding funding for housing, job creation, small businesses and other local economic needs. As locally owned and operated institutions, community banks are integral to their communities and engage in community reinvestment and community development on a daily basis. One of our primary missions is to ensure our local communities are vibrant and thriving," said Cynthia L. Blankenship, ICBA chairman and vice chairman and chief operating officer of Bank of the West, Irving, Texas. "The nearly 5,000 community bank members of ICBA offer a wide variety of products and services from standard savings and checking accounts to online banking and remote check deposit to help their customers manage and grow their money."

Each year, thousands of community banks participate in the annual ICBA Community Banking Month. Whether they host special events with local charities, offer programs to boost financial literacy, serve their customers refreshments or offer free car washes at the local drive-through, community banks ensure that their customers and their communities are the center of attention.

Community banks offer important savings products and services to help their customers' fulfill their financial goals. One advantage of saving at a community bank is that because they are local, they want to build lasting relationships with their customers so they work hard to deliver superior customer service. A house down payment, retirement, college, adoption expenses, vacation, emergency funds - to name a few - are all goals families and individuals may have that require savings and are great reasons to start a savings nest egg at a community bank now.

Finally, Blankenship called attention to the important relationship between community banks and small businesses. "We understand the needs of small business owners because community banks are also small businesses," said Blankenship. "Community banks are a vital to small business, providing funding for their expansion and innovation. In our changing economy, small businesses will continue be the engine for new job creation and economic growth."

Read more about ICBA and ICBA's Community Banking Month at www.icba.org.