Community Banks Doing Well in Struggling Economy

By: Cassie Anderson Email
By: Cassie Anderson Email

Last year, the United States saw a large number of bank failures with 157 banks closing their doors. The weak economy brought down two Nebraska banks, Sherman County Bank in Loup City and TierOne in Lincoln.

"Nebraska's been fortunate to not have the amount of bank closures we've seen across the country." Chairman of the Bank of Newman, Jeffrey Gerhart said.

Gerhart is the fourth generation chairman of the Bank of Newman Grove. He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the the Independent Community Bankers of America.

"I've been involved for the past 27 years and served on a number of committees with the ICBA," Gerhart said.

Gerhart says community banks in Nebraska are doing well in this struggling economy. He says small town banks don't have the all same problems as national banks. Gerhart says most of the loans his bank issues are for agriculture, so when corn prices go up, the bank cashes in.

"The bank is only as good as the community is," Gerhart said. "If our farm economy struggles, then we're going to struggle. If our main street struggles. I mean what we do is make sure we help people as best we can."

The Bank of Newman Grove opened in 1898. It's one of only three banks in Madison county to survive the depression. The doors remained open through two world wars, droughts and an agriculture crisis.

"We had a lot tougher times and a tougher economy back then," Gerhart said. "I'm sure something else will come along. With the good times or the bad times, you've got to be patient, do your best to work through those."

Gerhart will take 40 years of knowledge, as he follows in his father's footsteps to become the ICBA Chairman-elect. The ICBA helps Washington understand the issues communities are facing.
Gerhart says it's important to be involved.

"Anything we can do to make sure those businesses, banks included, are there tomorrow, benefits all of us," Gerhart said.

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