Business Development Director
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In this community bank feature, we spoke with an executive from Midwest Bank Centre about how community banks differ from other banks and how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected small businesses.
April is community bank month, a time to recognize the commitment and dedication that banks have to their communities. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on small businesses and caused great uncertainties across the United States. Consequently, the role that community banks play in their cities and towns has never been greater.
The team at Fintel Connect has had the privilege of collaborating with forward-thinking community banks that are committed to driving progress through innovation. We are pleased to showcase their stories through a series of interviews explaining the role that these banks play in their local economies, particularly in the current pandemic.
We spoke with Danielle Bateman Girondo, executive vice president of marketing at Midwest Bank Centre, a $2 billion-plus community bank in St. Louis founded in 1906. The bank, which has 18 locations in the St. Louis region, provides commercial, consumer, and digital banking; small business banking; business treasury management; mortgage lending; consumer lending; and insurance.
FC: Describe your role at Midwest Bank Centre? Why does being a community banker hold special meaning to you?
DBG: I lead marketing and sales enablement for Midwest. I also champion cultural development and customer-centricity initiatives throughout the enterprise. Though I have worked in several industries, I find the work of community banking particularly meaningful and impactful. We are the economic engines of Main Street.
I’m especially proud of my St. Louis roots and want the region to prosper and grow. As a community bank, our mission is to help our regional communities thrive. We can have an impact on tens of thousands of businesses and families by helping them fulfill dreams, whether it entails owning a home, starting, or growing a business, or funding a child’s education that have proven to be very powerful.
FC: What differentiates a community bank from other banks? Could you provide some examples?
DBG:When you work with a community banker, you are working with a neighbor, friend or the person sitting next to you at your place of worship. We know the community and are vested in its success. It is a powerful partnership – our customers often become our friends and there is a genuine sense of trust and mutual respect. Decision making is local, and we are often able to be more creative to help customers obtain a loan for a home or business.
Put simply, it is difficult to have that type of relationship, flexibility, or vested interest at a big national bank. By banking with a community bank, your dollars stay in the community.
With each loan to start or scale a business, there is a ripple effect. Businesses create jobs and generate tax revenues, which in turn support local schools and public services. At Midwest BankCentre, $95 of every $100 deposited locally stays in the region to build businesses and families, with each dollar circulating throughout the region 6x, on average. In 2020 we worked with Washington University in St. Louis and found that two of our branches – Pagedale and North City’s Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood, both traditionally underserved and unbanked areas – combined to create roughly $11.3 million in additional revenue and more than $9.7 million in consumer wealth.
When you work with a community banker, you are working with a neighbor, friend or the person sitting next to you at your place of worship. It is a powerful partnership – our customers often become our friends.
Danielle Bateman Girondom, Midwest Bank Center, St. Louis, Missouri
FC: COVID-19 has had a significant impact on small business. What are ways in which you have worked with small business owners to help them navigate uncertain waters, both due to COVID-19 and in general?
DBG: Since our founding, Midwest BankCentre has been committed to building capacity and resiliency in small and middle market businesses in the region. The shock waves of the pandemic hit our community hard.
As economic first responders, Midwest BankCentre associates worked well into the nights and throughout weekends to ensure that customers could obtain relief from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). We were there for non-customers who may have been overlooked by their banks. Nearly 35% of the clients we helped obtain PPP loans were not MBC clients before the program.
Today, we continue to help our clients navigate these uncertain waters by offering custom solutions that meet whatever financial needs they have. We also continue to help build powerful, local relationships to grow small businesses. We strive to build connections that open doors, so our customers can do business with one another. These introductions are often the foundation of relationships.