The New Year is here, and we couldn’t be more excited! In a fresh, new 2018, we are pulling back the curtain on a new website, unveiling new educational offerings—including our eagerly anticipated Career Path Training—and kicking off our renewed commitment to the employees of Pennsylvania’s community banks, and the towns we live in and love to serve. Even though the new year toasts all things new, we are still continuing to preserve, protect and empower the historic hometowns that have been here our whole lives, shaping our memories, supporting our families and enriching our lives. The highlight reel of our lives happened in our cherished hometowns. Our community banks are still rescuing some of the Commonwealth’s most charming hometowns, which continue to struggle in a changing world economy, an evolving energy environment, and a complex and often-contentious political environment. We are continuing to help people live out their dreams of home-ownership, business ownership, educational excellence, financial security, and lifelong happiness, prizing the heart of Main Street over the profit margins of Wall Street. Although the year is new, the song remains the same. Our commitment endures, but has grown. In 2018, we will still invest in our people, who are the future of banking, and even long after. Community banks are, and will remain, the lifeblood of our communities. Much like the PACB invests in our members, our community banks invest in our neighbors. We know full well that we are only as strong as the community that surrounds us. One of our members opened a branch amidst the hammers and the nails of a hardware store to remain a fixture in their community and continue to serve them; another opened a branch in a retirement village, giving older residents the opportunity to manage their money without having to find a ride to the nearest branch. That same community bank donates funds to its home borough so they can hang their holiday decorations on the town’s columns of streetlight poles, ala George Bailey’s iconic Bedford Falls. Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries got his first auto loan from his local community bank, giving him the opportunity to secure a car and a job that obviously led to bigger and better things! It’s people who make community banks the sentimental favorite—people who care, understand, listen and help in ways that many others don’t. In this New Year, I am deeply thankful that I am surrounded by 14,000 top-notch community banking employees whom I am dedicated to supporting and investing in, and hopefully, impacting in a positive way in the year—and years—to come. I know that when these employees are supported, they have the ability to pay it forward and change the lives of so many others—keeping the lights on in our hometown. Community banks are still doing what the massive regional banks are not: supporting their local communities. We offer small business loans to the aspiring baker or florist, donate to the local Kiwanis Club and Boy Scout troop, and support the local school district, township or borough. The proof of our impact can be seen in fireworks displays, arts festivals, outdoor concerts, canned goods on the shelves of our local food bank, and so much more. When we give back, we give our hometowns the might and the means to continue to thrive. After the holiday gifts are unwrapped and we return to work with our new gifts —perhaps a new iPhone, a new Fitbit, a new Keurig, a new coat—I am reminded of all the things that we have but don’t seem to really “see.” I recall the many times my family members—and I, too—will open a stocked refrigerator and say, “We don’t have anything to eat,” or open our overstuffed closets and say, “I have nothing to wear.” We have so much—I hope we are never jaded by that fact. I feel so blessed. I am always reminding myself to look at what we have with fresh eyes. Knowing the bankers in PA, I know we have so much. Happy 2018, and let’s continue to do well by doing good! Until Next Month… NICK DIFRANCESCO IS PRESIDENT/CEO OF PENNSYLVANIA ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY BANKERS. Although the year is new, the song remains the same. OUR COMMITMENT ENDURES, BUT HAS GROWN.
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