Independent Bank, founded in Ionia, Michigan in 1864 as First National Bank of Ionia, is celebrating its 150th anniversary. It is the fifth largest bank headquartered in Michigan.
The bank is celebrating its milestone with the volunteer service project “150 Ways in 150 Days,” which includes 150 local volunteer service days in the bank’s communities. These service days recently launched and will be completed throughout 2014. Each of the bank’s 75 branches and loan offices will engage in two service projects.
“We chose 150 days of giving back locally because we wanted to thank the communities and people who’ve done so much for us,” said Brad Kessel, president & CEO of Independent Bank. “We’ve grown from one branch to more than 70 by investing locally the same way our customers do. The 150 Ways in 150 Days project is simply an extension of our banking philosophy: our business is about serving our communities.”
These service days will include a variety of volunteer opportunities, such as hosting food drives, serving local charities and teaching financial literacy classes for children and adults. The bank expects to exceed its volunteer commitments from past years. In 2013, these commitments included volunteering more than 13,900 total hours; supporting more than 625 organizations through a combination of sponsorships, donations and service; and teaching financial literacy classes for more than 22,000 people.
In celebration of its sesquicentennial, the bank also recently launched a new website. The new site features a variety of updates to improve the user experience including enhanced navigation tools, streamlined user interface and the ability to customize the homepage background by choosing images from a photo gallery.
Independent Bank was chartered in 1864 as First National Bank of Ionia and had initial assets of $50,000, compared to $2.3 billion today. It was one of the first charters of the National Bank Act, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. The bank is still headquartered in downtown Ionia, the same place where it was founded.
“Our 150th anniversary is a perfect time to celebrate both our past and future,” said Kessel. “Focusing on our customers and communities will always be our foundation, but you don’t make it to 150 years without a willingness to embrace new technology and products. Community banking, when done right, isn’t old-fashioned – it’s simply banking that focuses on people above all else.”