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Hip, hip, hooray! Let’s hear it for bankers!
No, not those bankers – not Citigroup, Bank of America, and the other greedheaded giants that’ve taken billions of dollars each from us taxpayers and essentially run off with it. They’re arrogantly refusing to pour those bailout funds into our credit-starved economy by making loans to businesses, consumers, and others.
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Outside of Wall Street, however, and outside of the media spotlight, there’s a different story. You can find it in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for example, where Nicolet National Bank got $15 million from the bailout – an amount that wouldn’t even cover a single Wall Street baron’s bonus money. But Nicolet’s bankers didn’t use their taxpayer funds for bonuses, jet planes, or gobbling up another bank. They used it to make loans, pumping the cash directly into the local economy. “This bank can only be as good as the community it operates in,” says the bank’s CEO. “We’re very invested in this community.”
The same is true in Southern Maryland, where Shore Bancshares runs three small town banks. The dab of bailout money it got is also being pushed out vigorously. “We have continued to loan money and support the community,” says the CEO. Imagine the head of Citigroup or any other Wall Street empire even grasping the concept of community.
All across the country, hundreds of independent banks in urban neighborhoods, small cities, and rural areas – are doing what banks are supposed to do: serve communities. There’s a Louisiana bank that’s even holding town meetings throughout its region to let potential borrowers know that it can help them immediately with their credit needs. Independent, smaller banks like these didn’t put their money into flimsy global financial schemes, so they are now better capitalized than the giants – and because they’ve stayed connected to local customers, the independents have something the Wall Streeters can never buy: a measure of public trust and support.
“Tiny Banks Lending Large,” www.abcnews.com, February 4, 2009.
“Big opportunities for small banks,” www.cnn.com, February 3, 2009.
“Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow”, Jim Hightower and Susan DeMarco, Wiley and Sons, 2008.