Things finally are returning to “normal.” Infection rates in Pennsylvania and across the nation are steadily in decline. Nearly 70-percent of Pennsylvania’s adult population has been vaccinated. Pennsylvanians are more willing to gather for sports or network. Community bankers are no exception.
PACB recently held its first in-person events since March, 2020. A member golf outing and a conference of mutual bank leaders in Hershey marked the start of PACB’s return to in-person networking and professional development. June also marked the month that I returned to the road to reconnect with bank leaders, learn about opportunities for the association to support its member bankers and discuss opportunities for their involvement in the activities to advance the association’s advocacy work.
My first business trip since the pandemic didn’t start so well. Shortly after arriving at the hotel, my car died. I needed to get to a dinner with several bankers. No Uber were running locally, and the hotel shuttle was not operating.
I explained my predicament to the front desk clerk at the hotel. I asked if he could call a taxi to take me to the restaurant. Instead, the desk clerk HANDS ME HIS CAR KEYS and asked me to return by 11 pm.
I drove that car like my parents gave me the keys – and admittedly I wondered aloud what might be in the glove box if I happened to get pulled over.
Seriously, good people still exist in the world, and I did like I was taught – I filled the young man’s gas tank and left $50 in his visor when I returned it.
That front desk clerk made a leap of faith to help me out of a tough spot.
It reminded me of the leap of faith that community bankers took in support of their local businesses through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars injected into the national economy through loans made to local businesses.
Most of these small-business life-lines were originated by community banks. Nearly all of which were processed and disbursed long before the ink had dried on the notes and the forgiveness documents.
The historic efforts by community banks and others to infuse capital into the economy and keep local communities alive has been the focus of much media attention over the last year. We know that the PPP is not the only way community banks support their local businesses and communities. Rather, it’s the commitment and love for their communities and hometowns that was the reason why so many community bankers participated in the PPP program.
That special bond between community bankers, their customers and communities, is deserving of recognition and a story worth telling.
On July 19, PACB community bankers, directors, and bank leaders will gather at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center for the presentation of the Inspire Awards to recognize the incredible and varied ways that community banks breathe life into the neighborhoods they serve. The next day, July 20, is a day for education and networking, designed specifically for community bank executives and the next generation of leaders.
Award winners are determined to be those organizations which INSPIRE others in the community to undertake a leadership role in making their local communities a better place.
PACB is proud of the powerful role that our community bankers play to support local businesses, schools, charitable groups and houses of worship. Community bankers work hard every day to help their local entrepreneurs and community leaders build vibrant communities where families want to live, work and play.
The awards will recognize banks for their work to identify a problem or issue in their local community and the initiative designed to address or solve it. Lastly, how the initiative has made a difference through objective and measurable outcomes.
PACB’s INSPIRE Awards, will recognize banks and bankers for their work in four categories:
- Community Support and Engagement;
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion;
- Paycheck Protection Program Involvement; and
- Game Changer: A technology or service deployed in 2020 to specifically address a pressing community or customer need.
Submissions will be reviewed and judged by a three-person panel of business professionals and non-profit community leaders, not employed by PACB. The awards gala will be emceed by Soni Diamond, an award-winning communications professional and executive presentation coach.
Community banks are as unique and diverse as the small-towns and farming communities that they serve. You underwrite small-business dreams, fund home purchases, and support your local communities in multifaceted ways.
We look forward to seeing you on July 19 and 20, in Hershey, when we can celebrate community banking and recognize the inspiring ways that community banks give back to their local communities.
Kevin L. Shivers, CAE
President and CEO
Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers