Editorial: Future of Local Business Means Supporting Franklin County CDC

The Recorder, June 28th, 2015. Editorial.

Thank goodness Franklin County’s number one lender isn’t one of those mammoth Wall Street banks — you know, the ones that helped damage the Main Street economy of America in what has now become known as the Great Recession.

It’s the locally owned banks that take the lead in helping the local economy, and while they are primarily profit-making businesses and not charities, our local banks are invested in the economic well-being of the community they serve and live in.

So it should probably have been no surprise, but very nice to see nonetheless, when this month Greenfield Savings Bank donated $35,000 to the Franklin County Community Development Corp. The gift was offered in a way designed to amplify its effect by using it as a matching grant.

Until June 30, the bank will match dollar for dollar other contributions to the nonprofit CDC up to the $35,000. The CDC assists small business owners or startups with planning and small loans. It operates a commercial incubator for the smallest startups and runs the Western Mass. Food Processing Center, which helps small specialty food entrepreneurs and farms launch and manufacture food products. The processing center increasingly is involved in farm-to-school food programs. In many other ways, it’s always involved in the conversation about economic development in Franklin County.

So it’s no surprise that was the direction Greenfield Savings Bank’s newest president, John Howland, turned as he made one of his first investments locally.

“We challenge others to join us in helping our community thrive,” Howland said in announcing the grant that offers a 50 percent state income tax credit for those who donate $1,000. In the end, this bank gift can bring $70,000 to the nonprofit CDC, to which dozens of the county’s small businesses and farms have turned for help over the last 35 years.

We hope these donations will encourage a virtuous cycle, nourishing county business, which in turn provide jobs and investment in the local economy, which of course, benefits our local banks, who we hope in turn will continue their investment locally, be it local sports teams uniforms or loans for job-creating local startups.