Skowhegan Savings Bank: Invested in the Community | January 2018
By Maria Landry
At the heart of every community are the people—and the businesses—that hold it together through good times and bad.
Founded 150 years ago by local people eager to see the region prosper, Skowhegan Savings Bank is a mutual savings bank. President John Witherspoon explained, “Because we’re mutual, we don’t have shareholders, and our mission is really to make our communities a better place to live and work because we’re in essence owned by the community, or our depositors.”
Witherspoon noted that because the bank is focused on the benefit of the community, customers “know they can get answers to questions, they can get problems solved directly, they have access to the president. We have a local board of directors; they have access to that board.”
Skowhegan Savings is conscientious about assisting customers who are having trouble meeting their obligations at the bank, Witherspoon said. “We really work hard with them to do whatever we can to help them succeed. In good times all banks want to do business with everybody. In bad times that’s not the case. Skowhegan Savings Bank has been here for the last 150 years through both good and bad times, and we support our customers regardless of what the economic conditions are.”
In addition to making loans and investing in businesses and individuals, Skowhegan Savings impacts the local economy through the Skowhegan Savings Charitable Foundation, which provides grants to organizations including Lake George Regional Park, Lakewood Theater, the Skowhegan Free Public Library, and Main Street Skowhegan, among many others.
“One of our more significant grants was for Jobs for Maine Graduates [JMG] to develop a pilot program in central and western Maine,” Witherspoon said. The program expands JMG’s traditional reach and teaches financial literacy concepts such as money management as well as skill sets that enable students to start a career, college, or a certification program.
The bank is also involved with Somerset Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and its efforts to attract new businesses and help existing businesses grow.
Several years ago the bank spearheaded the effort to buy and tear down deteriorating buildings on the corner of Commercial Street and Madison Avenue and create a small park. “Those buildings were not going to be saved and literally were falling in,” Witherspoon recalled. Today that corner is Pocket Park, an attractive green space downtown.
“I really enjoy the Skowhegan community,” Witherspoon said. “A lot of people in Maine, I think, have written off rural towns as dying, and I think Skowhegan is an example of the fact that that’s not necessarily the case if you have enough leadership. I think what’s impressive about Skowhegan is there’s quite a bit of younger leadership taking hold of the community and fighting the trends, if you will, investing in the community, and building the community, and promoting the community.”
Skowhegan is home to one of 11 branches of Skowhegan Savings Bank in communities throughout central and western Maine. For more information, see SkowheganSavings.com.