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Sweet! Cupcakes for community banks

By Allison Ross ·
Friday, April 11, 2014
Posted: 3 pm ET

In what may be one of the sweetest promotions of community banks ever, a food truck in the Washington, D.C., area is offering its customers two flavors of cupcakes in honor of Community Banking Month.

Community banking apparently tastes like raspberry-filled chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with gum drops on top. ... Yummm.


Sandra Panetta, owner of the Sweetbites Truck, says Virginia Heritage Bank helped her company get off the ground. Her dessert truck has been around since 2010, and now she plans to open her own bakery and cafe.

"I borrowed money to begin a business when banks were not generally lending money," Panetta says, answering questions from her truck in between taking orders from customers. "A small community bank believed in me and helped me get started."

Panetta was approached by the Independent Community Bankers of America, whose staff members had eaten her cupcakes and heard her story about getting her business started. She agreed to come up with a cupcake to celebrate Community Banking Month.

She says she chose the raspberry filling as well as the creamy vanilla purple-tinted frosting because purple was the color of the ICBA's promotions for Community Banking Month. She's considering changing out the filling of the cupcakes -- which cost $3.25 with taxes -- each week of the month.

"It's important to showcase the important work that community banks do for their communities," says Aleis Stokes, an ICBA spokeswoman. "We want to spread the positive story of community banks."

A study released this week by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. finds that community banks remain resilient, despite a drop in the number of banks in the past several years and the growth in market share of big banks.

The FDIC study found that the number of banks with assets between $100 million and $1 billion increased by 7 percent from 1985 to 2013. Those banks also saw growth in total assets.

"The FDIC study clearly demonstrates the strength and resilience of the community bank sector and supports the conclusion that community banks will continue to play a vital role in the financial system of the United States for the foreseeable future," FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg said in a press release.

Still, small banks continue to face a host of challenges. A report in January from Invictus Consulting Group LLC said that about 20 percent of community banks in the U.S. that have been stress-tested "are so poorly positioned" that they should consider selling.

Quick poll: How many of you still use a community bank for at least some of your banking needs?

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