Whether you’re getting ready to launch your own small business or are a second-generation owner of an established family business, finding the right bank can be key to reaching your goals. With many options available, how do you determine which financial institution is the right one? A local community bank is often the best choice for small to medium-sized businesses, from manufacturers to service providers, nonprofit organizations, and many types in between. Here are four reasons why.
Local Decision Making Authority
With a community bank, decisions about your loan are made locally by people who understand the landscape and the people behind the business; not a faceless entity making decisions solely based on a credit matrix. Community banks base decisions on first-hand knowledge of the conditions of the local economy, the nuances of industries in the area, insights gleaned from their professional networks, and one-on-one conversations that have taken place with you, the business owner. Local decision makers are also more nimble and flexible, many times making the loan approval process faster.
Because of the strong networks that community bankers have built through the years, they are more aware of various resources available to help local businesses get established and expand. Among them may be grants and special financing tools offered by organizations like Wisconsin Business Development, your local economic development agency or chapters of small business organizations like SCORE. A community banker is also tuned in to municipal tax incentives or tax incremental financing (TIF) districts focused on growing local business.
In addition, don’t underestimate the power of a banker who knows the right people to help build your business, whether you are a manufacturer, retailer, nonprofit,—potential partners, investors, board members, consultants, mentors and more. A banker who actively builds his or her network will be more aware of opportunities and can help you connect with people and resources to help your business succeed.
Commitment to Wisconsin Communities
Community banks are an integral part of “main street.” They reinvest local dollars back into the community and help create local jobs. At Investors Community Bank, our relationship banking philosophy is ingrained in the way we conduct business, one customer at a time. Local reinvestment ensures small businesses grow by helping them finance expansions and major purchases, both of which contribute to financial security.
Community banks also support their communities through sponsorships and donations. Over the past three years, Investors Community Bank has provided over $1.1 million in donations and sponsorships to the communities we serve. In addition, our team provides many, many hours of volunteer time in the community supporting Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development and multiple other nonprofits. We support and embrace this activity from our team members, offering each employee four paid hours per year to volunteer with an organization of their choice.
The art of meaningful conversation and personal interaction is declining in the digital age. Technology has its place, but when it comes to your business, there’s no substitute for talking with a banker you trust face to face about your vision—someone who can be a sounding board and offer suggestions to help your business meet its goals. A customer-focused business banker values your time and wants to fully understand how your business operates so he or she can better serve you. Your community banker will want to meet with you onsite at your company, tour your facility and take the journey of growth with you. This type of face-to-face relationship creates opportunities to know and understand each other more deeply, making it easier to work together to find creative, win-win solutions that best fit your situation.