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Move your money to invest in your community

April is Move Your Money Month. That means putting your money in a bank that invests in your community. The money you deposit in a bank doesn’t sit in a vault. It goes to work where the bank makes loans. Different banks make different investment decisions. Nationwide banks invest nationally. Regional and community banks invest locally.

Where you bank matters. Small businesses – the economic lifeblood of our community – depend primarily on loans from banks and credit unions to grow their business and the local workforce. Small and mid-sized community and regional banks provide the lion’s share of credit offered to small businesses, according to the Institute for Local Self Reliance. In contrast, only a small fraction of small business loans are made by large nationwide banks.

Local First compiled an online guide to help you choose a bank that invests locally (https://local-first.org/move-your-money). You can compare how much of a bank’s deposits are based in La Plata County and invested into small businesses and communities, as well as where the bank’s community lending is concentrated (whether in Colorado or other states).

Here is how to move your money (courtesy of People First Economy):

  • Open your new account at your chosen community bank.
  • Order new checks and an ATM/debit card.
  • Ask your employer to reroute your payroll direct deposit.
  • Change other direct deposits or automatic withdrawals.
  • Set up online bill pay for your new account.
  • Close your old account.
  • Enjoy your new local banking relationship.

Southwest Colorado businesses are fortunate to have access to lower-cost financing from a federally designated community development financial institution, First Southwest Bank. The bank’s nonprofit arm, First Southwest Community Fund, makes nontraditional loans to emerging and existing businesses to promote equitable and inclusive access to capital.

Another reason to bank locally is to further the generosity of banks that support local community nonprofits and charities. We at Local First are grateful for the generosity of local banks that have supported our work over the years. We especially want to recognize Alpine Bank for sponsoring Durango First Fridays in 2024, which we host in collaboration with the Durango Creative District and the Art Room Collective. Alpine Bank ranks second for cash contributions to charities among Colorado-based businesses, according to the Denver Business Journal.

Speaking of First Fridays, come out on May 3 to enjoy events hosted by local businesses and galleries featuring artists of all kinds. Check the Local First website each month for a list of events across Durango on First Fridays this summer and fall. You can support the local circular economy everyday by banking, shopping, eating and acting local across La Plata County. Join Local First to support the local movement today!

Doug McCarthy is CEO of Local First.