If you believe in supporting your community, shopping locally for food and other goods is a good start. If want to take it to the next level, banking your money with a local credit union or community bank is a great next step. Picking the right one isn't easy, that is until now.
BankLocal is a handy-dandy new web portal sponsored by Seacoast Local that lets you search your area for banks that keep their money local. Each bank is rated based on criteria that includes small business lending, speculative trading, bank ownership, branch concentration, and more, all culled from data available from the FDIC, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, and the National Credit Union Administration and run through an open-source algorithm.
Although shared ownership and broad access are significant concerns for people looking for a local-first banking choice, the small business lending component is where the real local boost comes in. Large banks -- those with more than $100 billion in assets -- offer up just over a quarter of total small business loans in the U.S. On the other hand, community banks and credit unions with less than $10 billion in assets cough up more than half.
Seacoast, the New Hampshire-based nonprofit behind Bank Local, believes in and advocates for local economies. Two of Seacoasts board members -- financial analyst Bob Marino and software developer Nick Plante -- created BankLocal as a volunteer project to easily disseminate this vital information to those who want it.
The cherry on top is that credit unions and community banks frequently offer higher savings rates and lower fees. In fact, large banks aren't that excited by small depositors because they're less profitable to serve. In any case, there's no excuse to not bank local. It's good for you and your neighbors.