Local bank honored for community work

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 24, 2015


ST. CLAIR SHORES — With its work supporting local entertainment in the community, developing programs to help children learn how to save money and more, First State Bank strives to lead the way for the corporate community to reach out to municipalities and their citizens.

First State Bank received a Macomb County Business Award in the category of Corporate Citizen this month, but Gene Lovell, president and CEO of the bank, said being a good corporate citizen is just good business.

“It’s important for us to be involved the way we are because our home is Macomb County, and if we’re going to thrive as a financial institution, we have to do everything we can to ensure the rest of the people within the county thrive, as well,” Lovell said.

First State Bank has 12 locations in Macomb County and one in Oakland County, and is based in St. Clair Shores.

“It’s important for us to work with the municipalities and know (that) the recent financial crisis, although it is behind us in many ways, the municipalities continue to struggle, and we want to work with them to support some of the programs they would not otherwise be able to (have) without the corporate sponsorship,” Lovell said.

Maria Zardis, manager of communications and marketing for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development, said that department hosts the Macomb County Business Awards each year in conjunction with the County Executive’s Office to celebrate businesses in Macomb County.

“Our mission is to build business in the county while making the community a better place to live, work and play,” Zardis said. “So, of course we want to celebrate the businesses that are doing it.”

Fifty-four nominations in six categories were sent to the county at the end of last year, and an independent panel of judges narrowed the businesses down to the top three in each category, Zardis said. The categories are: champion of workforce development, corporate citizen, diversification leader, energy efficiency expert, startup business of the year and model of OneMacomb.

To see videos of the top three businesses in all six categories, look for the MacombGov channel on YouTube.

First State Bank has been in Macomb County since 1917 and has created a free mobile app to help children learn to manage money, provides no-cost debt counseling for customers through GreenPath Debt Solutions, sponsors a scholarship program with Macomb Community College, supports the Macomb Food Bank, and provides support to community programs, like St. Clair Shores’ annual summer fireworks show.

Lovell said it’s important for First State Bank members to be involved and engaged in community activities and organizations like local Kiwanis clubs and chambers of commerce. He said they appreciated the recognition from the county of their work.

“I want to continue doing the work that we have been doing. I think it will help make us a stronger, better bank and allow us to provide better services to our customers and the people (of the community),” he said. “If we’re going to thrive, we have to do whatever we can to ensure everybody thrives.

“It’s a win-win situation.”

There are almost 17,000 businesses in Macomb County that provide nearly 300,000 jobs, Zardis said. The other 2015 business winners were PTI Engineered Plastics in Macomb Township, Coliant Corporation in Warren, Shelby Foam Systems of Shelby Township, SkyBlade Fan Co. in Warren, and the Chaldean Community Foundation in Sterling Heights.

Businesses were awarded during a breakfast at Cherry Creek Golf Club in Shelby Township Feb. 10, which included a keynote speech from Major Gen. Gwen Bingham of U.S. Army TACOM.