Thursday, November 3, 2011

Two strong school systems. Rich, black-coffee-colored-soil. Geographic good fortune as a commercial hub between Sioux City, Des Moines and Omaha, Neb. A junction for two federal highways.

When we discuss Carroll’s advantages, the reasons for our comparative success as a rural city, the above factors come to the fore.

But there’s something else that deserves more attention as a determinative influence on life in Carroll: the presence of robust, credible, entirely trustworthy and Carroll-minded community banks.

“I think it has helped the communities that they’re in,” said Paul Milligan, president of Commercial Savings Bank in Carroll. “It’s better for the community than these large banks.”

Lives in Carroll didn’t burst in the housing bubble. We have lenders that do business the time-honored way: sitting across from families and discussing reasonable loans for homes they can actually afford.

Our community bankers are there at the table in Carroll Area Development Corp., meetings and step up for contributions to  projects and charitable organizations and to Kuemper Catholic High School. The Daily Times Herald has decades of donation pictures to causes large and small — in the millions of dollars — to prove this.

We see the impact of our local banks up close and personal. We get it. They do business in an honorable way.

That’s why it’s so encouraging to see the nation’s collective eye now being turned to the benefits of community banks. The protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement have dramatically strengthened this Saturday’s Move Your Money Project — a national grassroots push calling on depositors to switch from Goliath national banks, and the dangerous hubris that goes with them, to our competent and humble community banks.

“On Nov. 5 hundreds, potentially thousands will withdraw their money from the nation’s largest Wall Street banks and move to small community banks and credit unions,” says the web site “What started out as just a Facebook event page by Kristen Christian of California, quickly went viral and garnered national media attention.”

The Move Your Money website suggests four banks in the city of Carroll deserving of your business: Carroll County State Bank, Commercial Savings Bank, Iowa Savings Bank and United Bank of Iowa.

In our surrounding coverage area, a number of other banks qualify under Move Your Money’s criteria as well — like Farmers State Bank in Lake View, Westside Savings Bank and Templeton Savings Bank.

If you are interested in other communities, search the Move Your Money web site.

Most of our readers already have their money with community banks in the Carroll area. But with electronic banking it is easy for young people with Carroll ties to bring their money back from Kansas City or Chicago or Minneapolis and the nationally connected banks to Carroll — where they can trust the banks to do right by them with fair fees (and not send the nation into a recession with the greed of Wall Street.) Other people with Carroll connections should consider Saturday as a good time to bring their savings and checking-account business home to our community banks as well.

Community banks improve America’s communities by funding nearly 60 percent of all small businesses under $1 million and by using local dollars to help families purchase homes, buy cars, finance college, and build financial security, according to Milligan and the Community Bankers of Iowa organization.

Say you what you will about the Occupy Wall Street protesters, their tactics and politics, and often incoherent or indecipherable principles. Not to mention some of those over-the-top antics in Oakland, Calif.

But they are on to something with support of community banks. What Occupy Wall Street and the Move Your Money organization are advocating Saturday is four-square good for Carroll.

Consider putting your money in local banks and persuade those family members in urban ZIP codes to toss off the shackles of Big Bank America and re-connect with the Carroll area’s trusted financial institutions through online banking.