Small businesses rely on community banks to finance growth.

That’s true across the country.
In fact, although small and mid-sized banks control only 22 percent of all bank assets,
they account for 54 percent of small business lending.
Here in the Seacoast, Optima Bank & Trust, the region’s only locally-owned commercial
bank, has loaned millions of dollars to small businesses ever since opening its doors five years
“Our goal has been to provide exceptional service, while investing in the local
communities by loaning money to small businesses and residents,” said Daniel R. Morrison,
Optima’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We are proud to be a part of the New
Hampshire Seacoast’s strong local economy.”
Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher with the Institute for Self-Reliance, where she directs
initiatives on independent business and community banking, has long heralded the advantages of
community banks, like Optima Bank.
“The primary activity of almost all small banks is to turn deposits into loans and other
productive investments,” she said. “The fortunes of local banks are intimately tied to the fortunes
of their local communities. The more the community prospers, the more the local bank benefits.”
In addition, local banks offer local decision-making.
“We make all of our decisions locally,” Morrison said. “We understand the local
community’s nuances and we know the customers personally.”
Mitchell noted that most locally-owned banks also offer, at a much lower cost than
bigger banks, the same array of services, from online bill paying to debit cards. In fact, Optima
Bank offers free checking, as well as free worldwide ATM access.
Basically, shifting your money to a local bank means that you will be putting your money
to work growing your local economy, Mitchell said.
The loans made by Optima Bank, for instance, have grown small businesses and created
new jobs throughout the Seacoast region.
For five straight years, Optima Bank has been the state’s fastest-growing bank. In
addition, it was named the 2012 Business of the Year by the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of
Commerce and a 2013 Business of the Year by the Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce, as well
as a Top “10 to Watch” private company in New Hampshire by Business NH Magazine.
“We have found that businesses and residents are welcoming the opportunity to shift
their banking local,” Morrison said. “After all, it is a win-win. They get exceptional service and
local decision-making and their money stays in their local economy.”