Letter to the Editor: Ignore the rhetoric against banks


As the political season heats up, it seems that the rhetoric regarding big bad greedy banks is at the forefront of discussions.  As a community banker in Virginia for several decades, I have witnessed firsthand the importance of banking institutions to their communities and their local economies.  Some interesting facts might be helpful to the dialogue.  Virginia banks employed 70,842 Virginians in 2014, 69.9 percent more than in 1994.  In 2014, 48,744 Virginia bank associates donated more than 499,359 hours of community service to their local communities.  In addition, Virginia banks donated a total of $53.8 million to local charities and nonprofits that same year.

The FDIC reported that in 2014 small business loans from 97 lenders were made in Virginia for a total of $9.7 billion, while 15 banks invested a total of $36.2 million into a Low Income Housing Tax Credit fund.  Besides stimulating our local economies, Virginia banks have supported financial literacy.  Did you know that over 12,700 students received financial literacy education from Virginia bankers in 2014 and that banks donated another $544,000 in college scholarships last year?

It seems that politicians today want you to believe that banks and bankers are a problem and that they can’t seem to throw enough of them in jail. I believe just the opposite.  Having banks and their associates in our communities makes us more vibrant economically, inspires us to be more generous where needed, and helps enhance the quality of life for our friends and neighbors in need.  When I participate in community fund raisers, on nonprofit boards, and in volunteer efforts to benefit our communities, I always see other bankers providing resources and making efforts on behalf of our their communities.

When the next political debate begins and the bankers are thrown under the table, please ignore the rhetoric.  Look around your community.  I promise that you will see evidence that a Virginia bank and or a Virginia banker is working hard to make a positive impact on your community.

Scott C. Harvard, chief executive officer, First Bank, Winchester