Monday, April 10, 2006

Constantly Evolving

“The horse and buggy was still the primary mode of transportation, and the Board looked upon loan applications with great misgivings if the applicant owned an automobile,” was a line that caught my eye as I was reading the history of First-Knox National Bank, which had brought me into Mount Vernon, OH (population 14,375) for their annual Business Summit. The bank was founded in 1847 and has evolved greatly over that period of time, just as a town has to evolve and change.

I was reminded of a friend’s story that his lead bank wouldn’t finance his airplane or anyone’s airplane because the Chairman thought they were an extravagant luxury. The loan officer ended up financing the plane, hiding it as a loan for farm equipment, which was acceptable to the Chairman. Or, the bank that wouldn’t make a loan to young Bill Gates because they couldn’t figure out how to collateralize this thing that he called “software”, when Micro Soft was a two worded company in Alburqueque.

Mount Vernon impressed me as a town that has evolved from a farming and trading town. Today it is a wonderfully diversified community with a strong base in manufacturing, education and construction. It ranks in the top 10 counties in the state in the later 2 categories and number 27 in manufacturing employment, out of the 88 counties in the state.

Gordie Yance and Curt Cree from the bank gave me a great tour of the community’s many assets including Kenyon College and Mount Vernon Nazarene University. They obviously are very proud of their hometown and continue to make substantial investments in the community for its long term health. Having such a bank in a town is critical for long term success.

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