The more things change, the more they remain the same. As we kick off Community Banking Month, I can’t help but reflect on that statement and the changes of this past year. While we have been challenged far beyond our wildest dreams, community banks have stayed the course in keeping the focus on our communities. We ensured that when the ground beneath us shifted, we remained firmly rooted in our foundation as pillars of our communities, committed to helping the local environment flourish.
Yet, what it means to “go local” has shifted. We now are buying online from local retailers, ordering delivery or takeout from neighborhood restaurants, and corresponding more digitally. What used to be an initiative centered on physical proximity has now become a movement toward a greater sense of community. This newfound focus on commitment to the common good aligns with the very essence of community banking.
While the delivery channel may look different, the underlying concept of going local means that the money spent is reinvested in the community. By focusing on our communities, we are creating a brighter future for them, bridging the gap so that businesses thrive, jobs remain and the community prospers. Going local means that capital remains local, providing resources for the better of everyone.
And community banks are the heartbeat of these efforts. We’ve always placed an extraordinary focus on our local activism, but in today’s environment, it means more than ever before. Think of the hundreds of thousands of small business owners who turned to their community banks this past year to keep their doors open. Or the millions of Americans who have had peace of mind because their community bank was in their corner through the economic impacts of COVID-19. Or the thousands of local philanthropic organizations that have relied upon community bank support to respond to our communities’ needs.
Because when we say “go local,” we’re all in. Unlike our credit union counterparts, we pay taxes, and those tax dollars are spent at home to ensure our communities grow. We support local nonprofits, food banks and other charitable efforts to aid community development. So, as we look to all that has shifted in the past year, let’s take a moment to celebrate what has remained the same: our commitment to our communities. Because community investment is the basis of a healthy economy and is the purest form of economic development, and community banks are here for it.
What you need to know: The 2021 ICBA Capital Summit is going virtual at the end of the month. We hope you’ll join us as we reinforce banking locally and our advocacy initiatives with members of Congress. Icba.org/capitalsummit.
Connect with Rebeca @romerorainey