How banking locally benefits your business, the economy

You’ve probably heard of shop local campaigns, which are designed to help stimulate the local economy by supporting small businesses. But did you know you can also help your local economy by supporting your friendly neighborhood bank?

Banking locally can help both your business and the economy in a number of ways. Chris Massie, divisional vice president and senior commercial lender at Northwest Bank, has seen first hand the positive effect local banks can have on their customers and community.

“Banks have a tremendous impact on the communities they serve,” Massie says. “They not only provide resources for local businesses, they also serve their communities through volunteerism and contributions to organizations that benefit the community at large.”

Smart Business spoke with Massie about how banking locally can be a smart way for small businesses to make an impact on the area they serve.

What should a business look for in their local bank?
Your bank should be viewed as a trusted adviser that you can turn to for guidance and advice. A good banker should be familiar with not only your industry, but also your local economy. That puts them in a position to provide you with valuable insights you can use to run your business.

What are some common misconceptions about banks?
One of the most common misconceptions about banks has to do with the underwriting process. Many businesses believe only one individual, or underwriter, makes the final decision regarding their credit.

However, there’s more to it than that.

The credit process is actually more collaborative than you might think and involves the whole relationship between your business and the bank. The better your banker understands you and your company, the easier he or she can determine what type of financing makes the most sense for your needs. This can also help your banker uncover other potential opportunities that you may not have considered.

What should a business do before meeting with a bank?
Before meeting with a bank, business owners should have a meaningful discussion with their accountants and legal partners. Preparation is key and can help you through the loan process. Without proper preparation, your banker may not be able to help you meet your needs.

Banking locally gives you an advantage because your banker is easily accessible to answer any questions you may have. This not only can help speed up the loan process, but it also helps solidify a lasting relationship with your bank, which can be useful in the future when it’s time to expand your business.

How can a business benefit from a strong relationship with their local banker?
It may sound cliché, but good communication is key to a meaningful and long-lasting relationship. A strong relationship between customers and their bank is beneficial, as they can celebrate your successes with you and help you out during the times when you need it.

How do businesses and banks work together to improve the local economy?
A healthy local economy often results from collaboration between businesses and their banks. Because of their access to resources and shared interest in the community, they both often work with the same overall goal in mind.

They both also serve the same community — you’ll see them helping out with similar efforts like charitable giving, employee volunteerism and providing assistance to community members in need.

It’s this shared vision toward bettering their community that makes banking locally a smart choice for small businesses. Not only do you help by keeping money in your area, but you also can benefit from personalized service by having your banker close by.

Northwest Bank is Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

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