From the Chairman

ICBA: Making community banking great again

When I came on board as ICBA chairman, I had no idea that part of that honor would involve handing President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence “Make Community Banking Great Again” ball caps in front of more than 100 community bankers in the White House Kennedy garden. Some things in life you just can’t dream up!

That’s exactly what happened when ICBA chairman elect Tim Zimmerman, vice chairman Preston Kennedy, president and CEO Cam Fine and I shook hands with President Trump and Vice President Pence after their remarks at the White House meeting that kicked off the 2017 ICBA Capital Summit last month.

In the exclusive meeting with ICBA, the president, the vice president, NEC director Gary Cohn and Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon, Trump said his administration is focused on addressing regulatory burdens to help community banks lend to small businesses.

This was music to my ears! It was also sweet music to the community bankers and ICBA staff who were at the meeting, and the thousands of community bankers who were there with us in spirit. Finally: recognition for what community banks do for this great nation, and a battle cry from the president of the United States to deliver us from the regulatory burdens that keep us from doing even more for our communities.

But that was just the start. At the Capital Summit, House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling also espoused the importance of community banks and said Congress “will throw a deregulatory life preserver to save our community banks.”

The following day, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin voiced his support for the community banking cause during his Q&A with Cam. Again, I’m not dreaming this up. It all really happened.

The wind is in our sails, and it’s up to us to continue to sail, even when the waters get treacherous. We are getting somewhere, and it’s thanks to your hard work, perseverance and tireless advocacy. You have been the difference makers. Thank you for all you do.

Speaking of difference makers, I cannot even begin to show my gratitude to one of our biggest difference makers: Cam Fine. As if our Capital Summit weren’t already making headlines, Cam sent shockwaves through the audience and press when he announced his intention to retire in May 2018 after what will be 15 years at the helm.

I think we community bankers can agree that Cam has been a tireless advocate for this great industry, giving his career, talents and passion to a cause that he believes in so deeply. He has done so much for our industry and has set us on a path for success. I thank him and wish him all the best over the next year.

I know we will be well served by Cam’s successor, ICBA immediate past chairman Rebeca Romero Rainey, chairman and CEO of Centinel Bank of Taos, N.M. She is a fantastic leader who will take this industry into the next generation with her talent, enthusiasm and energy.

I’m deeply honored to have served with Cam and know that ICBA and its community bank members will be in the best of hands as he and Rebeca lead ICBA into the future.

R. Scott Heitkamp is president and CEO of ValueBank Texas in Corpus Christi. Follow him on Twitter at