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What we learned from “love your local bank” month


Local First Arizona put on a speed dating event to help local businesses get hooked up with local banks. We sent a group of our team members, including our president, James Christensen, out 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 and our COO and CFO we have almost 100 years of experience.”

This is how local starts

Right now, even though small and mid-sized banks like us control less than one-quarter 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 us with only 4%. One of the goals of events like these are 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 know the only place to go from here is up.