Community Banks: Supporting Jobs and Manufacturing Success in Rural America

Posted on February 28, 2012. Filed under: Carl Laveck |

Judith Canales, Administrator of USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business and Cooperative Service|Christopher Salm, CEO of Salm Partners, LLC| Carl Laveck, Executive Vice President Denmark State Bank

When you’re invited to the White House, you know you’ve done something pretty special. Such was the case last week for 46 manufacturing firms and their community banking partners from across the United States. I was honored to be among those in attendance and proud that three of the companies honored were home-grown, Wisconsin entities.

I had the great privilege of joining one of the honorees, Christopher Salm, CEO of Salm Partners, LLC in Denmark, to the White House. The occasion: Recognition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for making positive contributions to the economy and job sustainability in our community. Thomas R.Testwuide Sr., Chairman and CEO of Skana Aluminum Company in Manitowoc; and Robert Rhode, Executive Vice President of Crystal Finishing Systems in Schofield were also recognized during the event and rounded out the Wisconsin contingency of manufacturers honored. Together, these three Wisconsin companies support almost 800 jobs in our state and our local communities. 

It’s deeply gratifying to see community banks and rural businesses working hand in hand to create jobs and improve local economies. It’s even more gratifying to attend an event like this and realize that this type of rural renaissance is happening across the U.S. as well as in our own backyard. 

Through the Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program, the USDA and community banks are able to expand the existing private credit structure to make and service quality loans for these types of businesses, which will in turn provide lasting community benefits.  The program is administered by the Rural Business-Cooperative Service of the USDA Rural Development office and specifically targets economic development in rural areas across the U.S.

This B&I loan guaranty program is not a subsidy program, it’s a jobs program.  The loans are paid back to the local bank and the companies pay an annual fee to the USDA for the guaranty.  The cost to the U.S. government is minimal, and yet the results to a business and local community are significant.  The program has been in existence for many years through Republican and Democratic administrations and has a proven track record for creating and retaining jobs in rural America. 

Community banks, like small, local businesses, are the lifeblood of many communities. Community banks are the primary source of lending for small businesses and farms. Even though they compose just 21 percent of the banking industry by assets, community banks with less than $10B in assets made 58 percent of outstanding bank loans to small businesses. In conjunction with the special guaranteed business and industry loan program of the USDA, community banks played a role in each of the honorees’ success. On behalf of our staff and shareholders, we congratulate Salm Partners and all other manufacturers honored for a job well done. And we thank you for believing in, and partnering with, your local communities. Please join me in congratulating these manufacturers of distinction.

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