By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
A large white banner hangs from the second-storey balcony, between two white columns in front of the Madison County Community Bank, proclaiming “April is Community Banking Month.”
For the entire month of April, independent, community-based banks across the country are celebrating their investment in their hometown communities and their unique connection with their customers, things they believe set them apart from large, corporately owned mega-banks with branches in multiple locations.
Since 1999, when a group of local people came together and formed Madison County Community Bank, MCCB is Madison County’s only locally-owned bank.
MCCB President Edward Meggs underscores that local connection, describing it as a pattern typical of locally-owned community banks: “Our board members, officers, employees and most of our shareholders live, work and play in this community; we have a vested interest in the success of our community. Our employees know our customers’ first names, their spouses, their kids, their grandkids…we see them in civic clubs, churches, community events. As a result, we make decisions for the betterment of everyone, not just the bank.”
In contrast to branch banks with multiple locations spread far and wide, he adds, “While the employees (of these banks) are good people, most of the decisions are made at another location, outside the community. These decisions are sometimes good for the bank, not the community where they do business.”
Corporate headquarters for MCCB is right here in Madison. “We’re not shipping money off to other locations for salaries and benefits, and like most community banks, we’re a mirror image of our community. When they’re hurting, we’re hurting, and when they’re prosperous, we prosper.”
Because it keeps profits here at home, MCCB has been able to help fund scholarships to Madison County High School graduates, through the Madison County Foundation for Excellence in Education, as well as with North Florida Community College.
The bank is also heavily involved in several local events that benefit Madison County, such as Down Home Days, Relay For Life and the United Way.
But, one of their most popular events is the annual Veteran’s Day Remembrance Ceremony. Every November 11, even though the bank itself is closed, employees open the lobby doors and invite the citizens of Madison inside, for ceremony that is typically standing-room-only well before the service begins.
With local veterans and officials serving as guest speakers and leading the pledge of allegiance, local ministers leading the invocations and prayers, and local singers performing patriotic music, the observance is a way of bringing people together to honor their friends and family members who have served their country, and remember those who are no longer with them.
“These are things we have done for years and will continue to do,” said Meggs. “It is our way of giving back to our community.”