#332. Community Banks Transforming Towns!

Posted on | The Agurban
Community Banks Transforming Towns!

I’ve found dozens of examples of how community banks have transformed their communities for the better.  But my guess is that I’m only touching the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with these stories, and that a bit of digging would reveal hundreds, if not thousands, of such transformational stories.  Here are some of my favorites.

Hurricane Katrina was unlike any other hurricane in modern history.  The loss of life and devastation caused by it was overwhelming.  George Schloegel, CEO of Hancock Bank in Gulfport, MS was as overwhelmed as anyone else, but as the local banker he quickly realized he could help by getting cash into the hands of local people who were cleaning up properties, looking after loved ones, and just trying to survive.  He brought in $25 million in cash, handing out $200 to anyone who said that they had an account at his bank, even though he couldn’t verify their account information because his banks had no electricity and his data was underwater.

J. Irwin Miller, a third generation banker, turned Columbus, IN into the sixth most architecturally significant town in America.

Joe Frampton, a grocer turned banker, financed the conversion of a slum area into an artist’s mecca in Paducah, KY.

Brady Adams invested in downtown Grants Pass, OR in a big way.

BancorpSouth and Renasant banks have helped turn Tupelo, MS into a manufacturing powerhouse and the second wealthiest community in the state on a per capita basis.  Incredibly, those two banks have more total assets than ALL of the locally owned banks in either AZ or NV. 

First International Bank in Watford City, ND is now run by the 4thgeneration of the Stenehjem family, being the only bank in the county to survive the Great Depression of the 30s.  It’s done great things in its hometown.

And, Branson, MO’s Ozark Mountain Bank made their first commercial loan to Mary Herschend, who went on to develop some caves into Silver Dollar City.  That local tourist attraction is what eventually spawned the growth of live music in Branson, today bringing in 8 million tourists each year.

All of those and other stories are what I’ll be sharing in a couple of weeks at First National Bankers Bancshares Annual Investment Conference, when I will roll out my new talk on the importance of community bankers.

Next week’s Agurban: Entrepreneur Early…Entrepreneur Often.