ANDERSONVILLE — The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce wants residents to "invest in Clark Street instead of Wall Street," by taking their money out of big banks and shifting funds to community-based institutions.
Jessica Hammer, marketing and member services manager for the chamber, said that starting something like this has been on her mind since she attended the 2012 national conference for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.
There, she met other community leaders who spoke about the positive impact of switching to smaller banks, especially for small businesses.
"More than half of the nation's small business lending goes through community banks. They're really the ones who have been keeping the flow of credit going to local businesses. Because basically the big banks really aren't doing it anymore," she said. "By putting your money in a local bank, you are helping make it possible for that bank to lend out money to other local businesses."
Don Cortelyou, manager at Bridgeview Bank's Andersonville branch, said choosing a local bank shows community loyalty.
"Because when that money is sent out from the community it is reinvested in national and global efforts," he said.
Some of it comes back, but community banks keep more money in local economies, he said.
On a "social level," banking locally can be a more intimate experience than at bigger banks, he added.
To get its point across, the chamber is hosting a Wednesday event titled, "Shift Your Banking."
The event runs from 6-9 p.m. at L'etage, which is upstairs in restaurant Brasserie 54, 5420 N. Clark St.
Representatives from North Side Federal Savings, North Side Community Federal Credit Union, North Community Bank and Bridgeview Bank will be there to woo potential clients and talk about their services, especially for small businesses.
Registration is free.
Banks with assets of $10 billion or less are considered community banks, and big banks have assets of $10 billion and more.
As of June 2012, community banks held 17 percent of assets in the banking industry, "but they accounted for more than half the amount lent to small businesses," according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, "Financial Stability: Traditional Banks Pave the Way."
The Dallas Fed called community banks "a stabilizing force."
The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce only has community banks in its membership, according to Hammer. Not because big banks can't be members, she said, but because "that's not something that many have chosen to pursue."
That's fine with Hammer, who said the small banks in the neighborhood are the ones sponsoring food drives and chamber events, and working to help local schools and businesses in the neighborhood.
"I think their actions speak for what their priorities are," Hammer said.