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    The Top 4 Characteristics that Make Millennials Excellent Entrepreneurs

    Nov 10, 2016

    Although Millennials are sometimes plagued by negative professional traits and stereotypes, there are specific characteristics of young professionals that make them great candidates for small business ownership. In fact, entrepreneurship is particularly enticing to Millennials, who increasingly forgo more traditional career paths in favor of transforming new ideas and dreams into thriving small businesses and startups.

    So what exactly draws Millennials to small business ownership and helps them thrive among the challenges of entrepreneurship?

    Millennials Are Risk-Taking Optimists

    Young professionals are much more willing to take a risk on what may seem to be a lofty goal or dream. Not only are Millennials eager to take risks, they’re more optimistic that they’ll succeed. While other generations may plan endeavors around their education levels or years of professional experience, Millennials aren’t afraid to jump into the deep end of entrepreneurship and build their own business.

    What’s also interesting is the age in which different generations start their businesses. Baby boomers launched their small businesses at an average age of 35 while Millennials are starting their own businesses at the average age of 27 (according to 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report).

    They’re Extremely Tech Savvy

    While 20 and 30-something professionals are more fearless than their baby boomer predecessors when it comes to starting a small business, they’re aided by unprecedented tech savviness. While it is easier to start a small business than it may have been in the past, Millennials are taking advantage of their knowledge of technology and using it to build, market and grow efficient businesses at younger ages.

    Millennials are Not Afraid of a Little Debt

    Despite the financial caution of generations preceding Millennials, young professionals are not afraid of small business loans, credit card debt and crowdfunding as a means of financially powering their ideas and dreams. In addition, they’re increasingly reliant on mobile banking and technology to keep up with their busy, technology heavy lifestyles while looking to their communities for support.

    Millennial Local Business Endeavors Are Personal

    Young professionals are more interested in frequenting other small businesses and local establishments in contrast with nationwide chains. In the past ten years, farmer’s markets have more than doubled, while traditional (national) grocers have lost 15 percent. This paradigm shift has been driven in part by the purchasing habits of Millennials and cultural shifts. Although Gen X and Gen Y love supporting local businesses for feel good reasons, they also love the customized, personal service they receive on a local level.

    As supporters of local community banks, independent shops and restaurants, Millennials understand and are attracted to the unique comradery of small businesses and their role in serving the economic needs of the local community. This, in turn, drives their increasing interest in serving their neighborhoods on a local level as small business owners themselves.

    Get Involved!

    As the holiday season approaches, it’s more important than ever to support the local businesses that help make our communities great! Do you love supporting your local community by shopping, dining and banking locally? Make a quick video telling us why you love your community bank and send it to Carissa.hampton@icba.org or @ICBA on Twitter using the hashtag #ILoveMyCommunityBank.

    Keeping Cyber-Criminals at Bay in Today’s Connected World

    Oct 06, 2016

    Americans are more connected than ever. We’re more apt to notice a missing phone before a missing wallet. More inclined to send an instantaneous text or email than a letter. And increasingly likely to conduct financial transactions using a smart device from the comfort of our home. Could Alexander Graham Bell ever have imagined such a reality? Surely the creators of The Jetsons must have.

    But all that convenience comes at a price—one that has left consumers increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Reported fraud instances are up 25 percent this year even as new technology and enhanced security protocols like chip cards and multi-factor authentication are implemented to stave off emerging threats. So what’s a banker to do?  

    If you’re Peoples State Bank of Prairie du Chien, Wis.; Farmers & Merchants Bank of Berlin, Wis.; or New Tripoli Bank in Pennsylvania, you take part in a national movement to ensure that every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. All three banks:

    • have been recognized as National Cyber Security Awareness Month Champions by the National Cyber Security Alliance for helping promote a safer, more secure Internet;
    • outline their security practices to safeguard their customers personal and financial account information; and
    • provide links to industry resources to help consumers limit their exposure or report suspected fraudulent activity to law enforcement.

    People State Bank also provides periodic training for employees. And as part of its “knowledge is power” mantra, the community bank offers details on the latest security alerts for customers.

    Farmers & Merchants Bank has a similar “forewarned is forearmed” approach to data security, using its newsletter to remind customers of its information-collection policies and products geared to diminish the risk of debit fraud and help identify fraudulent checks. 

    Meanwhile, New Tripoli Bank uses its Web presence to outline the most common point of attack for its commercial clientele—business e-mail compromise—and how they can protect their businesses in the event of a compromised account. 

    With recent legislation and support from the White House, cybersecurity remains a popular topic of discussion, and rightfully so.  If each of us does our part—implementing stronger security practices and raising community awareness—everyone will benefit from a safer online world that even the Jetsons can envy.

    Weathering a Natural Disaster

    Sep 08, 2016

    All too often we are reminded of Mother Nature’s wrath. Whether it’s last month’sInvestarBankDriveThrough torrential flood waters pouring down on Louisiana or this summer’s wildfires blazing a trail through California, the fragility and power of our ecosystem is on full display.

    But as fires are doused, floodwaters recede, and the ground beneath us stabilizes, the fortitude of the human spirit emerges—determined to restore order and return a sense of normalcy.

    Offering a helping hand to pick up the pieces and move forward are the nation’s community bankers, who are at the ready with a hot meal, financial assistance, or loan modification to help their customers and neighbors in their time of need. It’s this sense of community and our more than 200 years of history that has forged a bond that no natural disaster can permanently tear asunder.

    “We had people visit us in the parking lot as well as had a drive-through available for those to get a hot meal and share their stories,” said John D’Angelo, president and CEO of Investar Bank in Baton Rouge, La. After opening its doors following the severe storms, bank volunteers lined up to serve 1,200 hot lunches and deliver meals and water to those in need.

    Because of their hometown roots, customers also rely on their community banks to establish and promote financial assistance drives, like former NFL player Todd McClure. The Baton Rouge native reached out to his community bank, Bank of Zachary, and two local non-profits to expand its GoFundMe drive under a 501(c) umbrella in support of flood victims in Zachary, La.

    That’s why ICBA Bancard’s subsidiary, TCM Bank, is supporting a Red Cross donation drive and has also pledged weather-related disaster assistance to its agent bank cardholders. For instance, the bank is offering to waive late fees, provide free payments over the phone, and work on behalf of its customers to document hardship requests.

    “We have had widespread flooding before, and we have had devastating floods before, but this is both widespread and devastating,” said Preston Kennedy, president and CEO of Bank of Zachary. “No doubt, federal assistance will be needed, but the vast majority of these people are doing everything within their own power to help themselves.”

    Providing a Helping Hand for Homeownership

    Jun 28, 2016

    June is a milestone month for many reasons. It’s the official start of summer, the end of the school year and the season in which many families begin the home-buying process.

    For many families, the path to homeownership starts with a call to a financial institution to take advantage of today’s low interest rates or new programs that offer easier and more affordable options. Community banks are a great resource to help these families determine the right time to buy a home and navigate the process.

    Community banks also specialize in non-traditional financing programs that can help families overcome challenges to homeownership and obtain their dream home. Community banks focus on building one-on-one relationships with their customers and can make loans to individuals that big banks won’t make. And because they live in the communities they serve, community bankers have a personal stake in helping their neighborhoods and hometowns flourish.

    All Together Now

    That was the case for Eddie Jean Smith, who long dreamed of being a homeowner. Last year, Habitat for Humanity partnered with nine banks in Jackson, Miss., to build a home for Eddie and her two children.

    These banks—including ICBA members Origin Bank, First Commercial Bank and BankFirst Financial Services— have supported Habitat for Humanity through the years by financing housing, sponsoring events and serving on boards and committees. But 2015 was the first time employees of all nine participating banks pitched in to build a home together.

    The collaboration has the “potential to be a catalyst for rebirth and transformation” of Greenview Drive—a once-thriving neighborhood in South Jackson, said Cindy Griffin, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area.

    Ripple Effect—Leading the Charge

    Also last spring Citizens Bank in Kilgore, Texas, took the lead on a similar project on South Street to help a mother and her three young children on the path to homeownership. Thanks to a $5,000 donation (matched 3:1 by the regional Federal Home Loan Bank) and 900 volunteer hours by Citizens Bank employees and their spouses, the family will be in its new home this month.

    “Our partnership with Kilgore Habitat harnesses the power of financial capital with tremendous volunteer efforts to revitalize a local community,” said Laura Rebouche', virtual banking center and marketing manager at the bank.

    This collective dedication of a local community to empower families and individuals, help rebuild neighborhoods and strengthen local economies is at the heart of community banking. For example, at this year’s annual convention, ICBA Community Banking LIVE® in New Orleans, community bankers participated in a day of service to help rebuild homes that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

    Community bankers take great pride in strengthening their communities. Whether it’s walking customers through the home-buying process, providing funding or offering a helping hand to a local charity, community bankers work hard to help their customers realize the dream of homeownership—one home, one community at a time. To find a community bank near you, visit www.banklocally.org. To learn more about community banks and services they offer, visit www.icba.org.

    Clinton Savings Bank Helps High School Sophomores Get a Reality Check

    Apr 27, 2016

    The Clinton Savings Bank partnered with the Rotary Club of Nashoba Valley, Mass. and the local high school for a fun, interactive Reality Fair about financial management as part of its Community Banking Month activities. It’s an annual event for 10th grade students.

    After researching a career and related salary, the students received a monthly paystub, complete with taxes and student loans. The students then had to use their net earnings to purchase housing, utilities, insurance, transportation, food, clothing and other personal items. They also had to deal with 401K contributions, entertainment and recreation temptations, and a spin on the Wheel of Fortune, which represented life’s unexpected windfalls and financial fortunes or misfortunes.

    Nearly 60 volunteers from local businesses, the community, and various Rotary Clubs participated.

    “This is our fourth year of sponsoring the Reality Fair, and I am delighted this event is now a tradition at the high school, said Rotary Club president, Jim Stone. “I really appreciate our partnership with the high school and Clinton Savings Bank to make this life-changing program a success.”

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    Nashoba Regional High School Sophomores pick up their paychecks and open Savings and Checking accounts before purchasing housing, transportation, and other necessities at the fourth annual Reality Fair, organized by the Rotary Club of Nashoba Valley with support from Clinton Savings Bank.


    Theme-Filled Event Permeates Community Banking Month Celebration

    Apr 26, 2016

    Community Banking Month is a highly anticipated and special month for Bank of the West employees. Each week in April the staff select a fun-filled theme for the week for each branch with many of the bank’s employees spending personal time to make decorations and costumes. On Monday morning before the bank opens the staff decorates their lobby with that week’s theme, concluding with celebratory refreshments and a weekly drawing on Friday for the bank’s visitors and customers. Many customers return for Friday’s finale with their young children. “Not only is it fun, it is a great opportunity for us to meet our youngest potential customers — and promote financial literacy to the next generation,” says Christy Bair LaZear, senior vice president & cashier at the Grapevine, Texas-based bank.

    “We are always excited to show our appreciation for our customers and to celebrate how proud we are to be a community bank,” says LaZear. “It’s a wonderful experience for everyone — customers and members of our bank family — to celebrate being part of our community.”

    To follow the ICBA Community Banking Month conversation on social media, follow the #BankLocally hashtag on Twitter.

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    BAC Community Bank Uses Newsletter as Story Vehicle

    Apr 22, 2016

    BAC Community Bank put a fresh spin on its traditional newsletter as part of a special outreach in honor of ICBA Community Banking Month. The Stockton, Calif.- based bank used the special communication to highlight its role as a job creator and supporter within its community.

    In a recent newsletter to customers, BAC Community Bank revealed that it employs 115 individuals, supports 91 families, and provides a full slate of benefits to 174 people. The bank also noted that its employees contributed over 350 hours towards non-profit activities and that the bank made contributions of $134,850 to 155 organizations in 2015.

    In that same communication, the bank also shared its long-standing ties with Visionary Home Builders (VHB), a prominent leader in the development and renovation of affordable housing in California’s Central Valley region. Thirty-three years ago the bank helped fund a project to improve living conditions for workers residing in public housing. Today, in addition to providing seed financing for many of VHB’s projects, the bank also provides a line of credit to help the organization with a project for veteran and family housing in the downtown Stockton area.

    Royal Bank: I Heart My Community Bank Because

    Apr 21, 2016

    ICBA Community Banking Month provided an opportunity for Elroy, Wis.-based Royal Bank to showcase its community involvement. Highlights from its month-long celebration included:

    • “I heart My Community Bank Because…” signs,
    • Reality Daz events promoting financial literacy; and
    • Cash Mob events in its Dickeyville and Adams locations.

    The bank also leveraged social media to engage with customers.

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    Unity Bank Ads Inject Humor with Celebrity Cameo

    Apr 20, 2016
    Unity Bank uses humor to make a case for consumers’ banking business with a short video featuring actor Gary Busey. The Hollywood celebrity, known as much for off-screen hijinks as his on-screen performances, impersonates bank president Jim Hughes and is ultimately shown the door so the banker can get down to business doing what’s best for his customers.

    First Green Bank –A Year in the Life of a Regenerative Bank

    Apr 19, 2016

    Orlando, Fla.-based First Green Bank is a community bank on a global mission—to support environmentally sustainable businesses. In support of its value-based mission, the bank embarked on a “Year in the Life of a Regenerative Bank,” project to chronicle its efforts to construct a living building with minimal impact on the environment. The bank also provides special interest rates for commercial and residential projects that qualify for LEED certification and offers a Solar Loan program, which encourages customers and employees to install solar panel systems for energy use.

    The bank also runs the non-profit First Green Foundation, which supports local start-up farming projects as well as projects that better manage water resources.

    “Favorite Bank” Touts Community Involvement

    Apr 15, 2016

    For the 14th consecutive year, The Murray Bank has been named “Favorite Bank in Calloway County,” an honor reflective of the bank’s long-standing ties to the community, according to bank president and CEO, Bob Hargrove. A new video showcases this involvement and is one several communications being promoted via social media in celebration of ICBA Community Banking Month. The bank is also using its Facebook page to introduce members of its staff through short Q&As, promote its local chamber of commerce with a lunch and learn, and advertise its sponsorship of the Murray Half Marathon this weekend.

    The bank also has several ongoing campaigns in support of local-area youth including its “Student of the Week” spotlight and its “spirit debit card” program, from which a portion of the generated fee income is used to support its two local high schools. In January, bank presented each school with a $10,000 check, bringing its total donations under the program to over $38,000 per school.

    Follow the bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheMurrayBank or on twitter @TheMurrayBank. To follow the ICBA Community Banking Month conversation on social media, follow the #BankLocally hashtag on Twitter.

    Tioga State Bank Uses Testimonials to Promote Small Business Services

    Apr 14, 2016

    Throughout the month of April, ICBA is showcasing submitted videos and images from community banks highlighting their ICBA Community Banking Month activities. Today’s video spotlight showcases Tioga State Bank’s personal approach to small business banking with a testimonial from Dave Jones, general manager at CSI, a custom manufacturer of test systems. “They brought a team and asked good questions. [They were] the only bank that took the time to understand what we do,” said Jones of the Spencer, N.Y.–based bank.

    Video Offers Top 10 Reasons To Bank Locally

    Apr 13, 2016

    Looking for a good reason to bank locally during Community Banking Month? New Tripoli Bank offers its own Top 10 list for banking at one of its two branches in Lehigh County in Pennsylvania. As with former The Late Show host David Letterman’s famous listings, there are a few tongue and cheek entries like #5—Open an account and get a free puppy. But it’s top reason to bank with a community banker--because they believe people are more valuable than money—is representative of relationship banking for which community banks are known.

    Colorado Backdrop Sets Scene for “Unique” Banking Message

    Apr 12, 2016

    Skiing on snowcapped mountains and whitewater rafting through Colorado’s rocky mountains are two of the prominent backdrops depicting life in the Centennial State as part of a media campaign by Bank of Colorado to promote its unique style of banking for its one-of-a kind residents.

    “There’s only one Colorado. And there’s one bank dedicated to help you make the most of living here,” according to the colorful ad series depicting how the bank helps Coloradans not only live but thrive through its network of branches in Durango, Estes Park, Fort Lupton, Grand Junction and Windsor, Colo. The ads also tout Bank of Colorado’s commitment to educating, advising and partnering with customers to create stronger communities all across Colorado.

    Paying it Forward

    Apr 11, 2016

    Every now and then it’s nice to be reminded that a good deed can impact far more lives than the intended recipient. It’s the basis for the 2000 film “Pay it Forward,” and it’s what community banks do every day as they work to build stronger communities and energize local economies.

    ICBA, as the nation’s voice of community banks, wants to do its part, too. This April, in recognition of ICBA Community Banking Month, we’re shining a light on community banks’ altruistic efforts and providing customizable marketing and communications resources in support of our bankers, who serve as agents for positive change in their communities.

    From their role as prolific lenders for the nation’s small businesses and farmers (community banks fund more than half of all small business loans under $1 million and 90 percent of all agricultural loans) to their active participation in small towns, suburbia and big-city neighborhoods, community banks are proof that guiding principles, not asset size, is the true mark of a successful banking relationship. Incredibly, 20 percent of counties throughout America would have no physical bank presence if it wasn’t for their local community bank. This is just one more reason why we say community banks are the lifeblood of their communities!

    Here are some great examples that show us how community banks are stepping up and making a real difference in their communities. 

    Bank of Luxemburg, Wis., made headlines with its plan to set aside $1 million to fund low-cost business loans as part of a revitalization effort. “It is our hope that these improvements will help to retain and attract local businesses, increase property values and create a stronger sense of community,” said Executive Vice President Tim Treml. The fund supports loan amounts ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 and includes a fixed interest rate and special repayment terms. The fund's long-term aim also includes improved landscaping, parking lots and pedestrian amenities.

    Meanwhile, Marshfield, Wis.-based Forward Financial Bank and its employees continue to amass an impressive donations tally totaling more than $673,000 over the past four years. Not only that, but community bank employees logged nearly 12,000 volunteer hours over a three-year period. One of its more high-profile projects—a $150,000 pledge towards a new Stanley-Boyd Orioles sports field—was “part of our mission to give back to our community,” said Andrea Hazard, Stanley office manager for the bank.

    If the motivation for a community bank is to change the footprint of a community, consider First Green Bank’s value-based mission to support environmentally sustainable businesses in Central Florida while meeting the bank’s profit goals. The bank has also embarked on its “Year in the Life of a Regenerative Bank” project to chronicle its efforts to build a living green building.

    These are just a few of the examples that show us how community banks are stepping up to make their communities a better place for all who call it home. These community banks serve as inspiration and a reminder of the important role community banks serve in supporting Main Street and being true economic engines of prosperity.

    Check out ICBA’s Go Local Blog daily throughout the month of April, which is ICBA Community Banking Month, for more inspiring stories about how community banks are making a difference!

    Community Pride Award Showcases Civic Contributions

    Apr 08, 2016

    Pipestone, Minn.-based First State Bank Southwest awarded their 42nd annual “Community Pride Award” this week as part of its Community Banking Month celebration. This year’s honor was bestowed to Gary Hoffman, a former banker at a competing institution who gifted his $1,000 award donation to the St Mary’s Grade School where he volunteers in the reading class four days a week.

    “Our selection sent a strong message to the community that even though we competed against Gary for years, our award recognizes the personal commitment he made to the betterment of Worthington", said First State Bank Southwest president and CEO, Gary Raymo.

    The bank’s entire staff of 32 employees stayed late to execute the event, Raymo says, which featured the nonprofit organizations and sponsorships that the bank contributed to during 2015 totaling $110,000, and food and beverages from some of the bank’s small business clients. 

    “Our customers truly enjoy the opportunity to showcase their products. It truly emphasizes the community bank relationships,” Raymo said.

    During the event the bank announced a challenge match fund for up to $50,000 to the local YMCA to help retire their remaining construction debt related to a 2009 facility and community aquatics center project. To round out its Community Banking Month celebration the bank will run a series of articles and pictures every Friday in their regional newspaper noting additional contributions planned for the month of April before finishing off the month with its annual Shredding Day.

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    Bank Uses Celebrity to Promote Local Lending

    Apr 07, 2016

    Minnesota Lakes Bank created two video spots—one featuring its president John Poling and another Minnesota Vikings Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. That video showcases the football player’s community involvement and why he chose to bank at a community bank. It also offers a plug for the bank’s social media presence.

     

    Video Puts Face to Bank Employees

    Apr 06, 2016

    Throughout the month of April, ICBA is showcasing submitted videos from community banks highlighting their Community Banking Month activities. Today’s video features employees at Community Financial Services Bank and how their involvement and passions in their communities impact the way they approach their jobs and serve their customers. From Nancy Adams who expounds on CFSB’s community efforts to aid underprivileged youth to Maggie Darnall, who was introduced to the sport of kickboxing by her colleagues now goes the office feeling more prepared and focused.

    Video Showcases Bank as Community Lender

    Apr 05, 2016

    A series of videos produced by The Community Bank speaks to the role of community banks as a funding source for America’s small businesses. Featuring the tag line, “Not on our Watch,” the video’s political bent stresses the benefits of banking locally and takes aim at misguided policies that protect Wall Street’s interests to the detriment of Main Street.

     

    Stay tuned to the ICBA Go Local blog page and follow the #BankLocally hashtag on Twitter for continuous Community Banking Month coverage throughout April. 

     

    The Community Bank Story

    Apr 04, 2016

    Minnesota Vikings Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn banks with a locally owned and operated financial institution. So does NFL Hall of Famer and former Washington Redskins player Darrell Green, who sits on the board for MainStreet Bank in Fairfax, Va. 

    These cornerback brethren share more than a love for America’s most watched sport. They’ve also found a home with their local community banks, which the players praise for their work in the community and personal relationships with customers.

    “I’ve appreciated the strong relationship with MainStreet because they stand for everything that is right in community banking,” says Green, a founding shareholder of the bank. “They work with their customers through good times and hard times, and they don’t give up."

    “Our culture is about accountability,” explains John Poling, the president of Minnesota Lakes Bank, where Munnerlyn banks. “It’s about embracing change and … providing exceptional customer service.”

    Both Green and Munnerlyn clearly see the benefits of relationship banking, which is what the community bank business model is all about.
     
    But community banks don’t stop there. They also pack a powerful punch when it comes to small-business lending.
     
    After all, community banks fund more than half of the nation’s small businesses. Not only that, but a recent Federal Reserve Bank study also found that community banks had the highest satisfaction scores among small-business lenders. According to the study, 75 percent of small businesses reported that they were satisfied with their overall experience with a community bank, compared with scores of 56 percent for credit unions and 51 percent for large banks.
     

    This is further proof that that community banks make a huge difference in their communities and in the lives of their customers. 

    As ICBA Chairman Rebeca Romero Rainey said during her speech at the ICBA Community Banking LIVE® national convention last month, “Our work matters!” 

    Romero Rainey, a third-generation community banker and chairman and CEO of Centinel Bank of Taos, N.M., also highlighted why it’s important for community banks to tell their positive story and explain why their work matters. 

    “Tell your story; tell it to potential customers; tell it in your community; tell it to your lawmakers,” urged Romero Rainey. 

    ICBA is helping community bankers tell their story throughout ICBA Community Banking Month with a variety of custom resources, including a news release, op-ed and sample social media updates. 

    Whether it’s the story of helping a small business get started or a first-time homeowner live the American dream, ICBA is encouraging community bankers to get the message out. By making their voice heard by the news media, customers and local communities, community bankers can spread the word about the importance of community banking.

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Community Bankers: Difference Makers 

Community Bankers: Difference Makers

Although April is Community Banking Month, we see Community Banks and their employees giving back and making a difference all year long. Take a look at just some of the many examples of how community banks impact their communities! 

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