Noah Wilcox: This industry is in my blood

Noah Wilcox

“As a fourth-generation community banker, this industry is in my blood. It’s not just what I do; it’s part of who I am.”

It couldn’t be more fitting that I’m penning my first column as chairman during Community Banking Month. As a fourth-generation community banker, this industry is in my blood. It’s not just what I do; it’s part of who I am.

I know I’m not alone in that sentiment, and in having the opportunity to see so many of you at ICBA LIVE last month, I was reminded of this tenfold. Many of us come from a long line of community bankers, but even if we’re first-generation inductees, once you’re a community banker, you’re always a community banker.

The way I see it, we are one community doing good for all communities, and we depend on one another. That’s how we thrive. This interdependence is critical as we work to execute our legislative and regulatory platform, Community Focus 2020 (

This will take action from each and every one of us. Poet Maya Angelou once said, “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”

My Top Three

My top three priorities as ICBA chairman are:

  1. Inspiring increased advocacy in Washington, D.C.
  2. Encouraging succession planning and next-generation engagement
  3. Urging ongoing personal growth through programs like Community Banker University and LEAD FWD

So, I encourage you to double down on your advocacy efforts. Increase your calls and emails to legislators. Take the time to visit them on Capitol Hill and host them in your banks back in their districts. Write op-eds for your local papers. Use your influence on social media. Implement a grassroots advocacy program in your bank. With the resources in ICBA’s Take Action: Be Heard grassroots advocacy toolkit (, we all can implement this program in a turnkey fashion, empowering our employees and families in the process. We have the right—and the obligation—to speak up in support of the communities in which we live and work.

But I implore you to infuse your actions with meaning. Allow them to exemplify who you are: a proud, determined, hard-working community banker. With that assured attitude, our voices will be heard. They cannot be ignored.

Each month, I have the opportunity to speak to you from this column, and it’s a gift to be able to use my voice in this way, but I see it as a two-way street. We can’t make an impact without your input. Please reach out to me to share your thoughts, ideas and concerns, because if they matter to you, they matter to our entire community banking family.

I’m humbled and honored to be ICBA’s 90th chairman, and I look forward to working with all of you this year to ensure we are heard and community banks continue to flourish!

Noah W. Wilcox, Chairman, ICBA
Noah Wilcox is president, CEO and chairman of Grand Rapids State Bank and its holding company, Wilcox Bancshares Inc., Grand Rapids, Minn.
Connect with Noah @NWWilcox