Our Mighty Engine

By Bill Loving

No one would argue that Washington has taken notice of our industry’s impressive advocacy achievements over the years. No longer can anyone doubt today that community bankers are a powerful force to be reckoned with in our nation’s capital. So when hundreds of community bankers storm Capitol Hill each spring during ICBA’s Washington Policy Summit, there’s no doubt that we make a statement—a positive and united one at that.

But just because the cherry blossoms and spring weather may have left Washington by now doesn’t mean that the valuable inroads we made with our lawmakers during the summit should go with them. We, as an industry, need to maintain that same tenacity and excitement that brought our industry together in Washington in late April. I witnessed the excitement—I felt it. Let’s keep that good thing going throughout this year.

After all, we’re going to need it. With our uphill battles in going up against the too-big-to-fail megabank lobby and working to relieve the stifling regulatory environment we all face every day, we’re going to need to support each other in a big way. The future of our industry depends on it.

We’re at a crossroad, folks, and we’ll need as many community bankers on our advocacy train as possible. We’ll need everyone to grab a shovel and start pitching coal to keep the fire fully stoked and our mighty engine steaming forward.

So go ahead and keep those conversations going with your congressmen and women and senators in Washington. Follow up with those congressional staff contacts you’ve made. Remind them what your community bank needs in order to continue to drive your local economy and community. Tell them what issues matter to you and why—how they affect your customers on Main Street.

Remember, you can stay connected 24/7 through ICBA’s Be Heard advocacy website. The website makes it easy for you to become better educated on pro-community bank policies, send advocacy letters and even connect directly with policymakers in a powerful way over social media. The site is updated regularly, so check back often for new opportunities to engage Washington on pro-community bank legislation.

So empower yourself by acting swiftly and boldly—make your voice heard today! Make advocacy part of your weekly duties at your community bank. Get your staff, directors and even customers involved. Never have more advocacy resources been available right at our fingertips, so please take advantage of them all on a regular basis. One of ICBA’s chief advocacy goals is to make it easier for you to share your perspectives and your bank’s story with lawmakers in constructive and meaningful ways. But you still have to do your part. You still have to stay engaged.

Together, community bankers are an unstoppable bunch—and we have proven that on Capitol Hill. I’ve seen it before, and I know I’ll see it again as ICBA continues its push to end too-big-to-fail and regulatory overreach.

Please join me and your community banking peers across the country in fighting for the future of our industry. Believe me, Main Street and America will be far better for it.