First Bank Financial Centre is city’s 2018 Business of the Year

By Brianna Stubler

Feb. 20, 2019

WEST BEND — The city of West Bend has announced First Bank Financial Centre as the 2018 Business of the Year award winner.

In a statement, City Administrator Jay Shambeau said the dedication to clients, employees and the community have made them deserving of the award.

The company’s vice president/ marketing director Jeff McCarthy said they were notified by Adam Gitter from the city and are honored by the award.

It was based on several criteria, McCarthy said: the nature of the business, employee access to employer- sponsored insurance, a retirement program and health and wellness options, being a leader in the community and the company philosophy on civic involvement, as well as being a leader in the industry.

This leadership starts with the mission statement to make lives better, McCarthy said.

“These three simple words drive everything we do,” he said. “And while we achieve our mission through exceptional banking products and services, we also do it through charitable giving and volunteerism.” Each year employees spend more than 15,000 hours a volunteering in their communities, and in 2018 more than 300 hours were dedicated to West Bend, he said.

This helps groups including the West Bend Chamber of Commerce, the West Bend School District, the YMCA, the West Bend Park and Recreation Department, the Albrecht Free Clinic, Shop With A Cop, Citizens Advocates, Life of Hope and the Washington County Fair.

In the past five years the bank donated more than $1 million to local nonprofit organizations. About $73,000 was given to Rides and Reins and $40,000 was donated to the 9/11 Memorial in Kewaskum. These efforts earned First Bank Financial Centre a top three finalist for the BizTimes 2018 Corporate Citizen of the Year award.

Loan pool program

But the biggest differentiator, McCarthy said, may be the business development loan pool program established in 2015 with West Bend.

“To help revitalization efforts, increase capital investments and provide support for new and existing businesses,” McCarthy said. “Together, we have partnered to promote growth in the historic downtown West Bend and Barton districts.”

The loans are offered to retail, commercial or restaurants when private credit or financing is not available. Since its creation, $232,000 has been loaned to West Bend businesses through the program, McCarthy said.

This year, the bank will celebrate its 160 anniversary, making it the second oldest bank in Wisconsin, McCarthy said.

“This type of longevity is rare in banking, and occurs only when an organization consistently treats its customers with respect, dignity and exceptional service,” he said. “We proudly serve second and third generations of customers and shareholders.”

In addition to traditional banking services, First Bank Financial Centre recently introduced products targeted towards veteran bankers with special benefits and discounts. The bank pledged to donate $25 to Camp Hometown Heroes for each veteran account opened.

Financial literacy is another focal point, McCarthy said.

“We are deeply committed to providing education and resources for our customers and the communities we serve as a whole,” he said.

“In 2018, we received Ruby Level status from Junior Achievement in recognition of the number of hours our employees spend volunteering with them.”