“Community banks help area families achieve financial stability while also driving small business lending in their communities—all of which helps their local economy and community to thrive,” said Bill Loving, ICBA chairman and president and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank in Franklin, W.Va. “Throughout the month of April, our goal is to celebrate the unique role that community banks serve in our nation’s economic system while helping to educate consumers and small business owners about the benefits of banking locally with their community bank.” By driving local economies and creating local jobs, community banks are an integral part of our nation’s financial system. With nearly 5,000 members, representing more than 24,000 locations nationwide and employing 300,000 Americans, ICBA members hold $1.3 trillion in assets, $1.1 trillion in deposits, and $800 billion in loans to consumers, small businesses and the agricultural community. There are almost 7,000 community banks, including commercial banks, thrifts, stock and mutual savings institutions, with more than 50,000 locations throughout the United States. Assets may range from less than $10 million to $10 billion or more. Community banks constitute 96.8 percent of all banks. “We at Merchants & Planters Bank are relationship lenders that only thrive when their customers and communities do the same, so taking care of our customers and looking out for the best interest of our community is the way we do business,” said Jim S. Gowen, Jr, President of Merchants & Planters Bank. To follow the conversation on Community Banking Month, follow the hashtag #golocal on Twitter. To learn more about community banks, visit www.icba.org.