April is National Community Banking Month, and CBTFL is especially pleased to celebrate our relationship with our customers and neighbors. We owe our success to the demand for independent banking in North Central Florida and we reward customer loyalty by serving our local communities. In order to meet the needs of the people and businesses of North Central Florida, we keep our leadership and decision-making local. Most of our shareholders and board members live in Marion, Alachua or Sumter County. Our employees are familiar faces to customers–both because there is little turnover and because the CBTFL staff lives in the same communities as our customers. Beyond the friendly atmosphere at our branch locations, there are many ways that citizens benefit from locally-owned financial institutions. We will highlight some of those here. And on behalf of CBTFL President and CEO Hugh Dailey and the rest of our team, thank you to all of our customers for trusting us with your banking and financing needs since 1998. We are so grateful to be part of this wonderful community.Community Banks vs Mega Banks

Supporting Small Businesses

“Keeping the lights on in our hometown” is the theme of this year’s Community Banking Month. And when it comes to small and local businesses, no one helps to keep the lights on more than community banks. According to a 2010 article from the Institute For Local Self-Reliance, “small and mid-sized banks ($10 billion or less in assets) control only 22 percent of all bank assets, but account for 54 percent of small business lending.” In contrast, “the largest 20 banks, which now command 57 percent of all bank assets, devote only 18 percent of their commercial loan portfolios to small business.” On a related note, a 2016 report from several Federal Reserve Banks found that “firms that applied to small banks were the most successful and most satisfied with their borrowing experience.” This report also showed that small banks have a higher approval rate than large banks when it comes to small business loans and financing. All of these statistics highlight the beneficial link between community banks and thriving local economies. At CBTFL, helping small businesses get started is one of our favorite aspects of community banking. Unlike loan officers reviewing applications from distant cities, we see the results of our financing decisions during our daily lives. From providing a renovation loan to an AME church in Gainesville, to financing the construction of an Ocala restaurant franchise our employees might end up eating at, and supporting individual horsemen in the local equestrian community, CBTFL is always  on the side of small business.

Helping Individuals And Families Achieve Financial Goals

Community banks’ focus on “Main Street” extends from small businesses to the individuals and families who live nearby. From our recent personal finance guide for young people, to our flexible lending options and variety of savings, retirement, and wealth management services, CBTFL cares about your individual financial needs and goals. We can help you “keep the lights on” as you go to work, raise your family, and plan for the future. We also know that the relationship between a community bank and its customers is one of mutual benefit. When you thrive, we all thrive together. That’s why we pride ourselves on being relationship lenders who take time to understand our customers and their needs. Instead of trying to sell you every product or service possible, community banks play matchmaker between a customer and the financial tools that will best serve them.

Sticking With The Community Through Thick And Thin

Unlike bigger banks, local financial institutions have a strong stake in the fortunes of their local community. Events like the recent economic recession were hard on many businesses, individuals, and families. Community banks are more likely to stick with their customers during hard times as well as good ones, modifying loan terms if necessary, or making loans to businesses or individuals who might be turned down by a big bank. Our employees’ local expertise helps them understand the context behind customers’ situations and needs. We are also proud to give back to our community, on both an institution and individual employee level.

Where Banking Is Personal

As we celebrate National Community Banking Month, we hope you’ll consider switching your account to a local bank, if you aren’t already a community bank customer. And if you live in Ocala, Gainesville, The Villages, or elsewhere in North Central Florida, we’d love to have you join our CBTFL family. With so much focus these days on eating local, shopping local, and other community initiatives, remember that choosing a bank is also about voting to invest your money locally. Even if you already bank with CBTFL or another local institution, April is the month to consider how banking locally here in North Central Florida can make a big difference in the success of your local economy and community. Watch our 20 year anniversary video to discover how we’re building a community we can all be proud of: