Local First Arizona put on a speed dating event to help local businesses connect with local banks. We sent a group of our team members, including President James Christensen, to the event to see what it was all about, and we were really happy with the spirit of local self-reliance.

The big bank blues

Lots of local businesses start banking with one of the big guys, only to find that they’re seen as small potatoes. James said he heard many small business owners talking about similar problems. “People were telling me they experienced very slow responses or no responses at all. They were frustrated with not having a specific person for their account who they could call.”

Our team makes the difference

We’re fortunate to have amazing team members who are in this for the long haul. When James was talking to people at the speed dating event, he found that business owners really just want to find a reliable partner. “They wanted to find a connection. I told everybody when they came up that what makes Gateway better than everyone else is our team and the amount of experience we have. Between myself, our COO, and CFO, we have almost 100 years of experience.”

This is how local starts

Right now, even though community banks like Gateway control less than 25% of all bank assets, we account for more than half of all small business lending. The problem? Arizonans have deposited 96% of their money into banks with out-of-state ownership, leaving local banks with only 4%. One of the goals of events like these is to raise that percentage from 4% to 10%. Think of how much more good we’d be able to do for local businesses if got even close! With events like this one popping up, we’re optimistic for the future of local banking.