A new publication issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency highlights the critical role banks play in the economic vitality of rural America through community development corporations and partnerships with government programs. "In rural America the local bank is as vital to a town's identity and viability as its schools and religious institutions," Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke, Jr. said in an article introducing the fall edition of the OCC's Community Development newsletter.
"Every bank in rural America is, or has the potential to be, a primary engine of economic development," the Comptroller added. In his article, the Comptroller noted that farming is no longer the predominant occupation in the great majority of rural counties. In fact, rural employment has shifted to manufacturing and services, with services accounting for more than 50% of all rural jobs. This was the first of two issues on community development exploring banking needs and opportunities in rural America, to be followed by an issue this spring on financing affordable housing and delivering retail financial services. To access the Comptroller's remarks, go to www.occ.treas.gov/cdd/2002fall01.pdf.