A small bank providing support and stability to the economies of small towns in Appalachia
Like most rural areas with a high rate of poverty, small towns in Appalachia are severely underbanked or unbanked. Mega-banks often see rural branches as unprofitable, and many small towns may never have had any banking options at all. Online banking resources are sometimes an option, but internet access in Appalachia is abysmal for the same reason mega banks don’t open branches in rural towns: lower profits. Many people may not be able to afford internet service even when it is available. Additionally, many may struggle to maintain transportation needed to be able to bank in nearby towns or cities.
However, individuals living in rural Appalachia need access to capital and loan products like everyone else and deserve the opportunities that fair housing and business loans provide. Without community banks and loan funds, many people will be taken advantage of by predatory lenders. In addition, they may not have access to community programs or banks that provide financial literacy resources.
For all these reasons and more, local community banks like First National Bank of Peterstown are essential to keeping families in Appalachia out of poverty. They’ve been operating for more than a century, providing loans and supporting the local economy in Peterstown, WV, a town of about 650 people. Like many small banks in small towns, they emphasize relationship banking, and in a town so small this is extremely important, as the banking needs of each individual or family are a vital piece of the local economy. They also recently opened a second branch in Narrows, VA, another small, rural Appalachian town.
Although we would encourage First National Bank of Peterstown to lend out more of their assets, as their net-loans-to-deposits ratio falls slightly below our benchmark, they have a satisfactory CRA rating and positive return on assets, indicating this bank’s stability. About 80% of the lending they do is devoted to housing, with 61% of that going to housing loans for low- and moderate-income households. They also meet our benchmarks for small business and agricultural lending, with this making up 15% and 2% of their lending portfolio, respectively.
This Better Banking Option is recommended to anyone looking to invest in these small Appalachian towns, and they offer online banking for anyone looking to do so. To learn more about this bank and products they offer, visit their website.