Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our industry was preparing to celebrate National Community Banking Month during April. Normally, this is a month dedicated to showcasing community banking’s history, as well as its unique role in communities of all sizes across the country. This year, through utilizing marketing opportunities and hosting community events, we stepped up during a crisis. We demonstrated in real time the vital role that we play and how we are different from our larger competitors in the financial industry. National Community Banking Month, while significantly different from years past, still served as a month that shone a spotlight on our industry and our positive impact on economies and communities across the country.
During July, PACB celebrated the community-focused efforts of its member banks across the Commonwealth with its aptly named IMPACT Awards. As part of the three Regional Meetings, which were rescheduled from March and converted to a virtual format, the individual efforts of member banks were highlighted, and the impact that these efforts had on communities were recognized in bestowing the IMPACT award. These awards demonstrate how Pennsylvania community banks continue to be the foundational presence and trusted partner for success in every community in which they operate. Also, these individual illustrations of the critical role played by community banks further cemented for me the importance of the role played by PACB in the legislative arena, advocating for a level playing field and a regulatory environment that is conducive to the ongoing vitality of the industry given the ever-evolving landscape of banking and customer expectations. The legislative victories of the past and the battles currently being fought have been and will continue to be of utmost importance. Our industry advocates at the state level (PACB) and at the national level (ICBA) are the only ones on the front lines fighting solely for our unique interests as community banks.
While the trade associations do an outstanding job of fighting for community banks every single day, they cannot truly be successful without our involvement as individual banks and bankers. Only through our continued monetary contributions to FIRSTPAC and ICBPAC, combined with the donation of our time and our voices to the advocacy effort in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., will success be ensured. There are plenty of opportunities for all of us to get involved and to have our voices heard by the legislators who ultimately shape the policy that impacts our prospects for success on a daily basis. I would encourage anyone who has not previously been involved in these efforts to get involved, and those who have been involved, to stay involved. Without the sustained and resounding presence of our collective voices in the legislative and public relations arenas, the industry risks continuing to be unfairly painted by the broad brush of public perception and punished through legislative measures aimed at protecting consumers from practices in which we never have nor would engage.
Our efforts through the pandemic and economic crisis have not gone unnoticed by consumers, the business community and legislators, and the time is right to continue to fight for a regulatory and legislative environment that ensures our industry’s continued success. I have been beyond impressed by the passion, diversity and talent across our membership and humbled by the opportunity to serve as your chairman for the 2019-2020 term. Let’s all commit to remaining engaged in our communities and in our industry in order to ensure the mutual success of all.
Jon Conklin is Chairman of PACB and President/CEO of Woodlands Bank in Williamsport, PA.