The Blurring of Big vs. Local

By Jim Perry

When working with community banks and credit unions across the country we often hear the belief expressed that large banks are somehow less of a competitive threat because they are not perceived to be part of the local community. As I was scanning the news this morning I caught a story from Rocky Mount, NC (population  57,433) that I may use to counter that pervasive myth in future conversations.

The news story told about a heritage of banking in Rocky Mount that began in 1899 and the role local farmers played in shaping that history. It told about old photos and records carefully preserved and quoted community members who were pleased with the effort to chronicle banking history in this eastern North Carolina town.  Who pulled together this celebration of community banking? PNC Bank.

PNC, based in Pittsburgh, PA, is the fifth largest bank in the United States with approximately $271 billion in assets and branches in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Yet here in this small community (and others like it) PNC has found an important way to connect with the communities it serves through its Legacy Project.

PNC’s Legacy Project, was initiated in 2007 and has expanded to become a comprehensive initiative designed to honor, document, and preserve the history of predecessor banks, the employees and officers who guided them. In addition to it’s impressive display in downtown Pittsburgh, it has unveiled similar historic collections at 15 other sites and maintains a separate website to ensure access to historic documents and oral histories. You can learn more about it here.

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