Growing Together

Article excerpt

Welcome new IBAA members in promoting community banking

A Renaissance is taking place in community banking. In contrast to the raucous, earth-rattling consolidation among the country's biggest bank chains, a quiet reaction against fast-food-style financial services is growing. People, whether they be farmers, small business owners or everyday consumers, want more for their money.

As a result, new community banks are popping ul) all over the country, from Sacramento, Calif., to Stockbridge, Ga. The year 1998 saw more than 178 new commercial banks and thrifts open their doors, following the pace of a growing number of startup banks not seen since 1989.

Community banks remain the economic workhorses of Main Street America. They are a lifeline for small businesses and an extra pair of hands to family farms. For everyday consumers, they provide financial peace of mind-and usually better rates and lower fees. They provide strength to local economies and the key to individual dreams. Of course, you know this firsthand. In many small and large ways, you see the positive impact your bank has on its community. You fulfill a special role in providing a broad range off reliable, high-touch financial services.

Although community bankers must confront man,/ challenges and significant changes in the years ahead, the outlook for our industry is bright and getting brighter. IBAA salutes community banks that recently joined our membership fold. It's our grass-roots membership that assures that, as we stand together, our future remains promising and strong.

PENNSYLVANIA BANK PUTS DOLLAR VALUE ON LITERACY

Talk about a smart return on an investment. More than 2,000 children read more than 20,000 books last summer as part of Harleysville National Bank and Trust Co.'s "Books for Bucks" literacy program in Harleysville, Pa. Children ages 5-12 were invited to take part in the program, which ran from June 1-Sept. 4, 1998. Participants acquired reading record forms from their local libraries or any of the bank's 21 offices. For each book the child read, the bank deposited $1 into an existing or new kids account (maximum $10 per child).

"This program is a wonderful way not only to teach children good reading habits, but also to prepare them for the school year," said Deb Takes, the bank's executive vice president and COO.

"Books For Bucks" is part of Harleysville National Bank and Trust Co.'s Kids Banking program, which started 10 years ago to teach kids early on about good savings habits. Children save money through the program with their own specially designed savings account. These kids accounts have no minimum balance requirements, and all earn interest compounded monthly based on the bank's statement savings rate.

COLORADO STUDENTS CITE BANKS' CONTRIBUTIONS TO COMMUNITY The Independent Bankers of Colorado made three high school seniors' transition to college life a little easier last fall when it chose them as the 1998 recipients of its Community Bank Student Scholarship Program.

Vanessa Hall, sponsored by the First National Bank of Akron, and Kristy Buffington, sponsored by Dove Creek State Bank in Dove Creek, each received $1,000 scholarships. Gene Dwinell, sponsored by State Bank of Wiley, received a $500 scholarship.

Qualifications to receive a scholarship were a grade point average of 3.0 or greater; acceptance at a Colorado college as a full-time student; either personal or parental possession of an account at an IBC-member bank for at least six months; and completion of an essay question and application. Applicants, who were sponsored by the IBC member banks, were judged on their academic performance, extracurricular activities, references and response to the essay question: "How does your community bank contribute to your community?"

All three scholarship recipients wrote essays praising their sponsor banks for their commitment to making the communities they serve better places to live. …