Magazine article Independent Banker

Islands of Opportunity

Magazine article Independent Banker

Islands of Opportunity

Article excerpt

One of the greatest privileges of serving as your ICBA chairman is having the opportunity to attend dozens of state conventions and drop in on many community banks across the country. It is an honor to be able to visit so many of your states-and if I'm lucky, your hometown-to meet you, my fellow community bankers, the very people at the heart of our nation's economy.

Over the past three years while serving on ICBA's Executive Committee, I have traveled by planes, trains and automobiles to your respec- to several more trips over the next 18 months. While flying cross-country may seem like the best option for me, my favorite way to travel is by car. My road trips so far have included destinations to great places like Bar Harbor, Maine; Maryville, Tenn.; Lincoln, Neb.; and Winfield, Ala. I have been struck by how each time I have spotted a community bank that it has been surrounded by other vibrant small businesses.

Those encounters reminded me of coming upon an oasis in a desert. This comes as no surprise, as we all know how com- munity banks serve as the financial lifeblood of their communities both large and small. My personal observations are simply more proof. There's no doubt that community banks drive our nation's economy by lending locally and creating jobs. And the numbers back that up. According to the FDIC, community banks under $10 billion provide nearly 60 percent of small business loans between $100,000 and $1 million.

Today, as you read this column a community bank is closing on a loan somewhere that will help someone realize his or her dream of owning a business. …

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