Archive for Thursday, November 8, 2001

Banking on community

Mutual Savings’ newest addition believes in local business power

November 8, 2001

When Bob Barron manages a bank, he doesn't just manage a bank. Mutual Savings' new branch manager has a track record of managing communities, too.

When Barron managed banks in Gardner and the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City, Mo., he belonged to various organizations, similar to chambers of commerce, that boosted the development and growth of local business.

"We lend out locally; we help our local community," Barron said. "We feel the need to help the people who help us."

In Gardner, that meant joining an economic development corporation that pushed local businesses. In Brookside, that meant a merchants' association that kept "mom and pop" stores up and running despite interest from national chains.

In Eudora, Barron said he planned to get involved with the Eudora Chamber of Commerce as well as other civic organizations.

"It's kind of sad the smaller businesses are leaving downtown," he said. "It's really a concern that needs to be addressed."

To solve that problem in Brookside, which Barron said was almost like a small town itself, the merchants' association would use cooperative advertising for businesses as well as involvement from neighborhood associations.

A thriving community, like Brookside, can include dime stores that sell "anything from a button up to a shovel," bookshop, antique stores and other businesses.

Having grown up in Ottawa when the town was smaller, Barron said he likes small-town banking as opposed to working for larger banks.

"They don't understand the Kansas clientele," he said, saying that many large banks try to push their clients out of the lobby and into drive-up windows and by ATMs. "We want our clientele in the lobby, and they want to be in the lobby."

Knowing individuals and businesses on a personal level are what draws Barron to places like Eudora.

"I enjoy working with people in these type of communities," he said. "I'm glad I'm banking out where I belong."

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