Value of Community Banks in Small Town Revitalization?
There are so many mays that a bank can play a role in the community in which it serves. It is vital for small local banks, like Homestead Savings Bank, to be active in the revitalization of their market areas. Banks are the engines that provide businesses with the capital to start companies for economic growth and revitalization. This is certainly the case in Albion, Michigan, our headquarters since 1889. Albion is the largest market that we serve and without the Albion community, there would be no Homestead Savings Bank. There are many areas to focus on in this endeavor; I have listed a few below.
Local Board and Management
This area is the biggest difference between locally-based community banks versus other banks. All of Homestead Bank’s directors live locally so they know the markets and are familiar with the people we do business with. Because our directors are local, we are able to communicate quickly with them to make timely decisions. This locality also gives management the authority to “think out of the box” and to know whether exceptions need to be made or not. Many banks lose this control when decisions are not made locally.
If we expect the community to support Homestead, we have to support the community. HSB purchases from its own customers and from other area businesses as much as possible. For example, when we have a “giveaway” event the prizes are purchased from area businesses. This is vital to our relationship with the communities we serve.
Additionally, our staff is made up of local people. They live, shop and are active in the community and they are our best marketing tool. In Albion, we don’t have a lot of ways to communicate with our customers so our employees have to be out in the community participating in local events to build relationships and promote goodwill for the bank. Every employee at Homestead has a performance review goal of being involved in at least one community event. The management is also required to be on one local board of directors.
Homestead Savings Bank has all the same products and services as a big bank. In fact, we have the versatility to adapt our products to fit the market versus the “one size fits all” model of larger banks. We offer comparable loans, deposits, and other banking services. One area we do fall short in is having the financial capacity to invest in quickly changing technology products. Larger banks have the staff, time, and money to invest in these areas; whereas at HSB it takes a bit longer to get such products into our customer’s hands.
It is our priority at HSB to offer a personal banking experience. When you enter our bank, it should be your expectation to be called by name. When you call us, you will get a real person, not a machine and you will be quickly directed to the department that can best answer your question. As President/CEO of Homestead Savings Bank, I do my best to be available to the customers in the communities we serve. Everyone is always welcome in my office and I enjoy going to visit our customers at their places of business. These interactions represent what’s best about a small hometown bank.
Homestead Savings Bank is a $68 million savings bank that has offices in Albion, Leslie and Springport Michigan. HSB serves the counties of Calhoun, Eaton Rapids, Ingham and Jackson counties.