Building a better beach community

group of people working on a habitat for humanity site

In August 2019, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank employees built homes with Habitat for Humanity.

Sanibel Captiva Community Bank in Sanibel, Fla., won an award because of its commitment to fueling the growth of its coastal community.

By William Atkinson

For the past 17 years, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank has served families and businesses of Lee County, Florida. The bank was originally created to serve those on the Sanibel and Captiva Islands but has experienced significant growth “off island” over the past four to five years.

While many of the inhabitants of the area aren’t local, Sanibel Captiva is. The $460 million-asset community bank is among the few financial institutions dedicated to serving the unique beachside communities of Sanibel Island and Captiva Island.

“Our bank … is the only bank that is chartered on Sanibel Island and created [with a] mission to serve the businesses and residents of Sanibel Island and Captiva Island, which attract visitors from all over the world because of our beautiful beaches,” says Amy McQuagge, the community bank’s vice president and director of marketing.

According to local booster organizations, the community bank has played a key role in the development of the area. In 2018, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank won the Chrysalis Award for business development, an honor presented by the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau and the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce. The honor signifies the development of a partnership between the business—in this case, the bank—and tourism communities in the county.

Tourism is critical to the success of Lee County. Both Fort Myers and Sanibel have been named top destinations for tourists and snowbirds looking for a weekend vacation or to build a summer home. The industry injects more than $3 billion into the economy annually and accounts for almost 44,000 local jobs. As such, collaboration between the tourism and hospitality industries and the county’s broader business community is crucial to its economic success.

McQuagge says the community bank has continually invested in its local area. Every dollar it gets in the form of deposits, it turns around and lends out to local individuals, families and business owners. “Our loan-deposit ratio is right around 100%,” she says. “Other banks don’t lend as much of their deposits and invest the rest in Wall Street. As a result, the bank helps stimulate the local economy, which helps local businesses grow and flourish.”

“Our loan-deposit ratio is right around 100%. … As a result, the bank helps stimulate the local economy.”
—Amy McQuagge, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank

In fact, because of the community bank’s growing commitment to helping the community, McQuagge’s position as director of marketing was created in October 2018 to market the bank’s growth “off island” and continued commitment to the community.

A friend to the community

Since bringing home the Chrysalis Award in 2018, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank has been no stranger to other awards in the region.

In October 2019, it was named a finalist for the Large Business of the Year category for the Horizon Council and Lee County Economic Development Office, which celebrates Lee County’s business community, and recognizes outstanding local businesses that have positively influenced the southwest Florida region. That same month, the community bank was named a finalist for the Uncommon Friends Foundation Business Ethics Award, which recognizes organizations that exemplify high standards of ethical behavior in conducting daily operations in southwest Florida, as well as during times of crisis.

Despite its success, Sanibel Captiva hasn’t wavered from its commitment to the community it serves. Just this past year, the bank has found several opportunities to help out.

For the past three years, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank and a local charity donated close to 20 adaptive tricycles worth nearly $50,000 to the Robbie’s Riders program, which provides special adaptive bicycles and tricycles to Southwest Florida children with disabilities.

In May 2019, the community bank housed the William Jenkins Memorial Fund in memory of a Fort Myers teen who died while fishing off the Sanibel Causeway. After the bank made its own contribution to the memorial fund, a number of bank employees decided to challenge one another to donate to the fund and the bank matched those donations resulting in almost $1,500 of combined giving.

In June 2019, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank announced that all seven of its branches would be donation drop-off locations to benefit the county’s chapter of the Pace Center for Girls, which offers year-round counseling and academic services for girls ages 12 to 18. For three months, the program accepted new and gently used dresses, shoes, handbags and accessories, which were then made available for resale at a fundraiser benefiting the Pace Center.

This past November, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank made a $25,000 donation to the Florida Gulf Coast University’s College of Education. The college is using the money to cover program expenses for students.

“Because we are local, our business and residential customers are actually our friends and neighbors,” McQuagge says. “So, we have an additional commitment to support them and their causes.”

William Atkinson is a writer in Illinois.