Show off your Main Street photos

Think your Main Street is the best decorated around? It’s time to share the holiday spirit with others and show off your festive downtowns. ICBA’s third annual Main Street Holiday photo contest is still accepting nominations. The winner will receive $300 for a local charity of his or her choice.

Check out last year’s winner, Town and Country Bank from Kentucky.

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So let’s see what sets your community apart from others around the nation. Nominations are accepted through this afternoon and the top five photos will be available to vote on ICBA’s Facebook page.

Want to find out more about ICBA’s Go Local initiative and how community banks support local small business throughout the year? Visit www.icba.org/golocal.

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Go Local for the Holidays

It’s that time of year again where jingle bells are ringing, holiday decorations are lining the streets and children are making their lists and checking them twice. That’s right – it’s time to Go Local for the Holidays!

ICBA is encouraging consumers to Go Local for the Holidays this year by shopping, dining and banking locally. When you patron small businesses, you are putting $68 of every $100 back to work in your local economy. With an estimated 28 million small businesses in the US, there is bound to be a variety of locally owned and operated business close by in your area.

Plan to share a little holiday cheer by supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs this season. Since more than 90 percent of consumers believe it is important to support the locally owned and operated small businesses they value in their community, you won’t be the only one making spirits bright on Main Street this year.

Want to find out more about ICBA’s Go Local initiative and how community banks support local small business throughout the year? Visit www.icba.org/golocal.

Community Bank Spotlight: Farmers & Merchants Bank

During the 2014-2015 school year, Farmers & Merchants Bank (F&M Bank) has provided nearly 1,000 area high school students with critical money management skills via its My Money, My Future financial literacy program. Funded by the bank at no cost to local schools or taxpayers, My Money, My Future is an interactive web-based financial management program that uses the latest in new media technology to bring complex, real-world financial concepts into the classroom.

Last school year alone, students completed 7,901 individual modules, achieving more than 75 percentage points in knowledge gain according to pre- and post-assessment testing. Topics covered included saving, investing, credit scores, and consumer fraud. Students showed the most improvement with the Financing Higher Education module, underscoring the real-world needs the program addresses.

In a recent press release F&M Bank President Dean Withers said, “Farmers & Merchants Bank is very proud of the number of students we have reached with critical financial education as it is just one of the many indicators of our commitment to the community.”

Read more on how Farmers & Merchants Bank educated area students.

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Community Banking Spotlight: York Traditions Bank

Community Banking Spotlight: York Traditions Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on York Traditions Bank from York, Penn. Marketing Manager Suzanne Becker provided insight on the York Young Professionals Event from earlier this spring.

York Traditions Bank held its monthly social at the bank’s administrative headquarters during the middle of Community Banking Month. This particular meeting of York Young Professionals allowed for the group’s members to meet and hear from York’s community and business leaders, but also allowed for the bank staff to interact with younger members, such as millennials and Gen Xers, of the community.

During the York Young Professionals’ event, York Traditions Bank’s Founder, Chairman and CEO Mike Kochenour told them that “your generation is making things happen in York! Continue to take opportunities to lead. Take risks. Every day, strive to be the best you can be. Give back. But most of all, be genuine and always do it for the right reasons.”

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During the fall of 2014, ICBA released its “American Millennials and Banking – A Cross-Generational Study” to better understand the perception of millennials, Gen X and baby boomers have of independent community banks. As a generation of nearly 80 million, millennials are changing the face of banking; they are hungry for financial knowledge and are self-styled entrepreneurs.

To learn more about millennials and to view ICBA’s 2014 Millennial Survey, visit http://www.icba.org/millennialstudy/.

Community Bank Spotlight: Heartland Bank

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Heartland Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Heartland Bank from Gahanna, Ohio. In the following interview, Kathy Williams explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
President Scott McComb and our management team truly let their actions speak louder than their words. This was most proudly demonstrated when Scott, several senior managers and local branch staff collectively organized and provided a hot lunch to workers cleaning the premises of a metal finishing company that has been our customer for more than 20 years. As the employees and cleaning crew worked tirelessly to start the lengthy process of cleaning up and rebuilding, the staff at Heartland rallied to provide a cook-out for the workers to boost their spirits and prove that their bank is supporting them through the good times and the not-so-good times.

The strangest component of this story is that the idea started at the top – from Scott himself. While brainstorming with his staff, he very openly admitted that he wanted to do something extra for this customer as the fire at his business nearly took the life of the owner himself. An on-site visit was not nearly enough, so he quickly decided that taking time out of a busy workday was the least he and his staff could do as they grilled burgers and hot dogs to provide lunch for the dedicated workers.

How did you celebrate Community Banking Month?
During Community Banking Month, our marketing department strives to post some fun ‘community bank’ facts on social media. They may even consider a homepage story on our website. Additionally, they include details about the month on our eMoney Matters newsletter.

BankSouth from Lake Oconee, Ga.

Community Bank Spotlight: BankSouth
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on BankSouth from Lake Oconee, Ga. CEO Harold Reynolds of BankSouth explains what is unique about his local community bank.

BankSouth, founded in 1946, is a family-owned community bank that has not only stood the test of time but has continued to grow and evolve to meet the needs of our customers and communities. We prioritize relationships and couple this with quality products, cutting-edge technology and services, and, most importantly, superior customer service.

Our approach to banking is what sets us apart: We are a family business that happens to be a bank. We are entrepreneurs at heart, and this drives us to focus on processes, measurable deliverables and maintaining a willingness to adjust to changing environments, opportunities and markets. In fact, we are known for finding creative solutions to fit our customers’ needs. There’s not much that a big bank can offer a customer that we are not already doing.

Sustainability and the long-term impact on our customers, communities, and employees drives our decisions and strategic initiatives. Examples of this are not few at BankSouth. When bank and mortgage company failures began in earnest in 2009, BankSouth began purchasing performing debts from the FDIC receiverships. By early 2011, BankSouth had acquired a loss-share bank from the FDIC in a neighboring market and partnered with an independent mortgage broker to form BankSouth Mortgage.  Today, BankSouth Mortgage is the No. 4 purchase mortgage and No. 3 construction mortgage provider in Georgia. Unlike many loss-share experiences, BankSouth stuck to its principles and in our third year of ownership was named the 2014 “Business of the Year” by the local chamber of commerce.

BankSouth is currently expanding our geographic footprint. Most recently, we opened up an Atlanta branch adjacent to our BankSouth Mortgage headquarters and are opening a Savannah branch later this spring. Additionally, the build-out of a correspondent lending channel has allowed BankSouth to further invest in and interact with community banks throughout the Southeast. Recognized as one of the top-performing community banks in the nation for the past three years, we continue to focus on exceeding customers’ expectations and seeking innovative ways to further serve our communities.

To read more about BankSouth in the May issue of Independent Banker, visit the Independent Banker magazine website.

Greater Community Bank from Rome, Ga.

Member Spotlight: Greater Community Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Greater Community Bank from Rome, Ga. In the following interview, Marketing Director Kristy Brown explains what is unique about this local community bank.

Founded 19 years ago by former Rome Mayor and career community banker Tom Caldwell on the principles of small-town banking, personal relationships, community service and a common-sense business model, we take our name, Greater Community Bank, seriously. We offer a top market portfolio of sophisticated financial services in two markets while being ever-mindful that we are, at the end of every business day, a community bank.

At an early age, David Lance, president and CEO at Greater Community Bank, was taught community and banking go hand in hand. His dad, Bert Lance, was director of the Office of Management and Budget during President Jimmy Carter’s administration. The younger Lance would be quick to share with you his dad’s funny but very successful campaign Full Service Bull Service, a program designed to improve the quality of livestock by leasing bulls to local farmers in northwest Georgia. Our bank continues today to lend to local farmers. Money that is, not bulls.

A most unique experience and one of our proudest was founding the Calhoun-Gordon Community Foundation in 2005. Lance and other bank leaders raised $2 million  in a short amount of time to create the largest endowment in the history of Gordon County. The same officers continue to be involved in the grant processes that funnel a staggering investment into the support for non-profits operating in the community. But our benevolence doesn’t end with those relationships. The bank has been central not just to the financial support of other agencies but the dedication of employees who serve on the boards of those agencies, lending their business acumen and professional experience to guide the non-profits toward successful business plans and then funding the loans that the agencies need to accomplish their programs of work.

Calhoun’s GEM Theatre and United Way of Gordon County in particular have benefited from the innovative thinking, creative outlook and hands-on involvement of Greater Community Bank. Donna McEntyre, executive vice president of the bank, is widely credited for bringing the single most successful fundraiser in Gordon County history to the community. After visiting Rome’s Celebrity Dance Challenge, McEntyre’s passion for giving back made her immediately encourage her hometown to create a similar signature event: Calhoun’s Dancing with the Stars. To date, the fundraiser continues to gain popularity and has crashed its own ceiling year after year, having put more than $600,000 in the coffers over the last four years. As a corporate financial sponsor and even as competitors in the contest, Greater Community Bank sparked the fire that still burns.

The bank’s concern for the disadvantaged grew into a strong relationship with our customers in both markets we serve. Our employees serve on boards, in community kitchens, raise funds for needy families, and collect toys and food donations annually. Watching the joy our employees have for the opportunity to give back every year as they serve are some of our proudest moments.

Chairman Bob Berry, a distinguished Georgia super lawyer, is a legacy in Rome. You know the old saying, “it all starts at the top”? Indeed it does literally for Greater Community Bank. Bob has been extensively involved in promoting a regional emphasis for recruitment and awareness of industrial, business and educational projects. For more than 20 years, Berry’s favorite project has been serving as emcee of the Affair of the Heart Awards Gala. The Heart of the Community Awards of Honor is designed to honor those “heroes of the community” who, through their volunteer and community service, are the Heart of the Community.

Volunteers make the difference between a good place to live and a great place to live. We all know bankers make great volunteers. That’s why we believe in our motto, “Live Better. Bank Greater.”

We celebrated Community Banking Month with tag teams! Our customers have embraced us as we have blanketed our community with car tags and magnets depicting our brand. It has been an opportunity to salute community banking and all it stands for as well as put our new brand on hundreds of rolling billboards!

When it’s all said and done, Greater Community Bank is about the greater community.