What’s Going on in YOUR Community?

With June quickly approaching, the majority of farmers markets are open or will be open this weekend throughout the US. Heading to one soon? Snap photos and comment here, tweet @ICBA or post on our Facebook page with all of the great things you are seeing in your communities! We’d love to hear about your local community banks in action.

Check out our previous stories to get ideas on what community banks around the country are already doing: ChoiceOne Bank Supports Sparta Farmers Market, Grand Rapids State Bank Creates First-of-its-kind Partnership With Local Farmers Market, Bank of Salem Goes Local with Farmers Market.

Tell us about your community’s farmers market! Are you a community bank who sponsors a market in your town? Let us know! We’re always encouraging people to bank local, dine local and shop local.

Each Friday this May, be on the lookout for Go Local’s Friday Farmers Market posts. We’re highlighting the great works community banks from across the country do with their local markets.

ChoiceOne Bank Supports Sparta Farmers Market

ChoiceOne Bank was ahead of the curve when it came to supporting local produce and food. The Michigan-based bank has been at the forefront in support of this effort for a number of years.

President and CEO Jim Bosserd was the driving force between creating a partnership with the Sparta Farmers Market. The market, which has been open for seven years, was looking for space to use and in 2009, Bosserd stepped in and offered ChoiceOne Bank’s employee parking lot each week.

All of the bank employees give up their spaces in the parking lot each day the farmers market is in town. Not only does the bank help provide space for the farmers market to operate, it also gives something even bigger then space – free word-of-mouth advertisement. The bank employees love the Sparta market so much that not only do they shop and visit the vendors, they encourage customers are the bank to do the same. Many customers are farmers in the area and are encouraged to sell their produce, foods and goods at the Sparta Farmers Market too!

The goal of community banks is to help educate consumers on the benefits of building a more sustainable local community, Bosserd said.

“Community banks have always helped local farmers and small businesses grow their businesses,” Bosserd said. “By banking, shopping and dining locally, we can make a big impact on the fabric of  our local communities, all while helping to build strong local economies. It means more local jobs and that is the bottom line today.”

Bosserd added that community banks, including ChoiceOne Bank, have consistently been a provider of agricultural credit within the commercial banking sector for hundreds of years. “We have the added advantage of being able to help our agricultural and small business customers with the unique dynamics of their local marketplace, helping them through good and bad times, because we live here and experience all this, too.”

Tell us about your community’s farmers market! Are you a community bank who sponsors a market in your town? Let us know! We’re always encouraging people to bank local, dine local and shop local.

Each Friday this May, be on the lookout for Go Local’s Friday Farmers Market posts. We’re highlighting the great works community banks from across the country do with their local markets.

MainStreet Bank Offers aircharity Product to Community Banks in Oklahoma

MainStreet Bank, based in Fairfax, Virginia, issued a press release about ways they are planning to help community banks whose communities were impacted by the Moore, Oklahoma tornadoes on May 20. MainStreet Bank offers its aircharity product to those community banks effected in Oklahoma.

Grand Rapids State Bank Creates First-of-its-kind Partnership With Local Farmers Market

For a Minnesota bank that has been around for nearly 100 years, playing a vital role in its community just comes naturally. Grand Rapids State Bank, based in Grand Rapids, MN, knows the importance of going local and lending a helping hand to neighbors whenever possible. When the opportunity came to create a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Grand Rapids Farmers Market, the folks at GRSB knew the benefits would be far reaching to everyone in their community.

The partnership Grand Rapids State Bank coordinates with the farmers market is through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. These cards are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, which many people recognize by its former name – the Food Stamp Program. Grand Rapids State Bank helps families who are part SNAP use their EBT debit cards to purchase fresh produce and items from the Grand Rapids Farmers Market. The farmers market happily accepts food stamps, but without help from GRSB, running a magnetic card reader outdoors in the market would be nearly impossible.

After receiving grants from the Minnesota Farmers Market Association to purchase a wireless card reader – for EBT cards but also traditional debit and credit cards – the Grand Rapids Farmers Market was part of the way to finally allowing cards to be used in the market in addition to cash. But who would be able to handle all of the monetary things behind the scenes? Grand Rapids State Bank of course! GRSB handles all of the card transactions and help ensure that the farmers get paid for the purchases.  During the 2012 season, the farmers market had nearly $5,000 from EBT sales and anticipates similar (if not better) results for 2013.

“Grand Rapids State Bank is always eager to do whatever is necessary to be of assistance to our community,” Noah Wilcox, president and CEO at Grand Rapids State Bank, said. “There is no better way to go local than by helping everyone in our community get better access to fresh produce from local farmers and shopping with the farmers market vendors. Facilitating the transactions from EBT sales is just one of the many ways we can give back to our community during the spring and summer months.”

As the Grand Rapids Herald-Review described it, home-grown food and a home-grown bank, you can’t ask for a better combination!

Tell us about your community’s farmers market! Are you a community bank who sponsors a market in your town? Let us know! We’re always encouraging people to bank local, dine local and shop local.

Each Friday this May, be on the lookout for Go Local’s Friday Farmers Market posts. We’re highlighting the great works community banks from across the country do with their local markets.

Bank of Salem Goes Local with Farmers Market

Salem Farmers’ Market, in North Central Arkansas, is open every Saturday morning from the first part of spring through late fall. The area which was once was known as a “fresh food desert” is now a place families can access fresh fruits and veggies, buy locally grown produce and enhance the local economy. In case fresh food wasn’t enticing enough, Salem’s local community bank knew just how to attract local residents to the market: free produce!

The Bank of Salem, which is located in Salem, Arkansas, is a sponsor of the market, by providing space for vendors and signage. However the bank provides something more substantial to five community members and multiple vendors each week.  The Bank of Salem Farmers’ Market Voucher Program began in July 2012 and provides five customers each week with $10 market vouchers.

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“Our employees wanted to do something to help support the new Farmers’ Market,” Mary Sanders, marketing director at the Bank of Salem, said. “We had provided signs and a location for them to set up; however, we wanted a way to give to the community and help increase foot traffic for the vendors and local merchants. From that idea the Bank of Salem Voucher Program was formed.”

The Bank of Salem sets out boxes in its three branch locations for customers to enter their names in to win one of the five $10 vouchers. Winners have driven from all ends of Fulton County to come to Salem’s Farmers’ Market just to use their vouchers and get their hands on fresh, local, free produce, courtesy of the bank. Since the contest began, the bank has given out nearly $600 to be used at the market.

Aside from all of the phenomenal efforts of keeping our local economy thriving, the Farmers’ Market also helps Fulton County residents to have a bigger sense of community pride.  Residents are also encouraged to spend a little more time downtown, shopping at local small businesses and taking their deposits over to the Bank of Salem.

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Tell us about your community’s farmers market! Are you a community bank who sponsors a market in your town? Let us know! We’re always encouraging people to bank local, dine local and shop local.

Each Friday this May, be on the lookout for Go Local’s Friday Farmers Market posts. We’re highlighting the great works community banks from across the country do with their local markets.