Community Banks Will Play Crucial Role in Economic Recovery, Restoring Trust and Capital Flow, Says Longtime Area Banker

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – November, 21, 2008Community banks will play the most important role in America’s economic recovery over the next five years, helping to restore public trust in American financial institutions and the flow of capital in public commerce. 

That’s the opinion of longtime Central Florida banker and business leader Geof Longstaff, who earned his MBA Degree from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park and currently serves as chairman of Mercantile Commercial Capital, LLC, in Altamonte Springs. 

“Small community banks have been a part of the fabric of the American financial system for decades,” said Longstaff, an instructor at the Louisiana State University Graduate School of Banking. “They are run by local citizens who have a stake in the local community,” Longstaff explained.

 According to the Independent Community Bankers of America, there are nearly 8,500 community banks in the U.S. whose assets range from less than $10 million to a few billion dollars. Where many of the nation’s largest banks place a priority on serving large corporations, community banks focus attention on the needs of local families, businesses, and farmers. 

“Typically, community banks consider such indicators as character, family history and discretionary spending in making loans,” Longstaff said. “They channel most of their loans to local neighborhoods where their depositors live and work, and the end result is that community banks serve as the backbone of the American financial system,” Longstaff said. 

Central Florida community banks saw their share of deposits grow from 15 percent to 20 percent in the two years prior to June 30, 2008, Longstaff added, and since then deposits have risen further as a result of the banking crisis.

 “Community banks don’t have significant investments in subprime loans or deteriorating credit card debt,” Longstaff said. “They aren’t focused on restructuring their balance sheets or waiting for a government bailout,” he added. 

“Because business loan decisions are made locally, community banks are better able to respond quickly and effectively, whereas a large national or regional bank loan approval committee may meet in another state,” he said. 

“Community banks are themselves small businesses,” Longstaff added. “They understand the needs of small business owners. Their core concern is lending to small businesses and farms, not corporate America,” he said. 

For more information contactGeof Longstaff, Emergent National Bank (in organization), 407-786-5040Larry Vershel, Larry Vershel Communications 407-644-4142