April 19, 2023

How Community Banks Provide Economic Stability Across Wisconsin

As economic cycles bring new opportunities and challenges to families and businesses across Wisconsin, community banks, such as Fortifi Bank, continue to provide an important source of stability. Many of these banks have continuously served as the backbone of local communities for well-over a century as Fortifi has done for more than 145 years , providing access to essential financial services and supporting the growth of small businesses as they’ve weathered a variety of storms. In this article, we will explore the ways in which Wisconsin community banks like Fortifi Bank contribute to economic stability and help residents weather periods of financial turbulence.

By Supporting Small Businesses

According to the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), community banks hold 14.9% of all banking assets in Wisconsin, and they are responsible for 44.2% of all small business loans in the state (ICBA, 2021). This highlights the critical role that community banks play in providing access to credit for small businesses, which are often the engines of economic growth in local communities.

By Providing Emergency Funding

One example in which community banks like Fortifi Bank have provided support during times of crisis is through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was established by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the PPP, Fortifi Bank was able to provide over $33 million in loans to local businesses, helping to preserve over 4,000 jobs in the process. This underscores the importance of community banks in providing access to emergency funding during times of economic hardship.

By Helping Keep Wisconsinites Employed

The 2008 financial crisis, commonly known as the Great Recession, had a devastating impact on the U.S. economy, with many communities experiencing high levels of unemployment and financial instability. However, research has shown that communities with higher levels of community bank presence were better able to weather the storm. Specifically, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that counties with a higher density of community banks experienced less severe declines in employment during the Great Recession than counties with fewer community banks. This suggests that community banks can play an important role in insulating communities from external economic shocks.

By Investing in Local Communities

By investing in the well-being of their local communities, community banks help to create a more stable economic environment overall. For example, Fortifi Bank has provided funding for a variety of community development initiatives, including affordable housing projects and local infrastructure improvements. This kind of investment in local communities can have a positive impact on economic growth and stability over the long term.

Wisconsin community banks play a critical role in providing stability to their communities. One reason for this may be that community banks are more likely to focus on supporting small businesses and individuals during times of crisis, rather than pursuing profits at any cost. Additionally, the personalized service and deep relationships that community banks often have with their customers can help to build trust, confidence, and stability in the local financial system.



Cull, R., Liang, J. N., & Smith, G. (2018). Community bank presence and household financial health. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, 100(2), 139-152.

Independent Community Bankers of America. (2021). Wisconsin: Fast facts. Retrieved from https://www.icba.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02

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