by: Megan Olson, President & CEO, ICBSD

I recently had the honor of meeting the legendary Dan Gable, a figure revered in the world of college wrestling as one of the greatest of all time. Gable boasts an impressive resume, including two NCAA Division I national championships, a world gold medal, and an Olympic gold medal. In addition to his stellar wrestling career, he served as the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa, achieving remarkable success with a dual meet record of 355–21–5. Under his guidance, his teams secured 21 Big Ten championships and 15 NCAA Division I titles, producing 152 All-Americans, 45 national champions, 106 Big Ten champions, and 12 Olympians, eight of whom earned Olympic medals.

Now, you might be wondering what Dan Gable has to do with independent community banking in South Dakota? The answer is quite significant. Gable is known for his insightful quote, “freedom across the world is a result of many individuals working together.” This sentiment holds particular relevance for community banking in South Dakota, especially in an election year.

Elections are a cornerstone of our democracy, demanding active participation for our voices to be heard. Often, I encounter individuals who vehemently criticize the government yet admit to not exercising their right to vote. Given the constant challenges posed by the government’s evolving policies, it is imperative that we elect representatives who understand and support community banks. Without our votes, representation becomes an impossibility. Therefore, it is crucial to familiarize ourselves with the candidates’ stances on issues affecting community banks and small businesses. The upcoming elections will significantly shape the future of banking, underscoring the importance of turning up at the polls and casting our votes.

Beyond voting, it is essential that we amplify our voices. Some may feel disheartened by what they perceive as a corrupt system, dismissing it as unworthy of their efforts. However, this perspective is far from the truth—our voices matter. Policymakers in the Halls of Congress and offices in Pierre are attentive to those who make the most noise. As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Various entities, such as credit unions and consumer groups, are already making substantial noise. It is imperative for community banks in South Dakota to identify advocates within their institutions. I challenge all South Dakota community banks to find at least one person in their institution to be an advocate. They can reach out to our team to learn how they can get involved; visits to Pierre and Washington, letters, phone calls, and meetings can be powerful tools too.

2024 is here! Let’s make some noise and make sure our concerns are heard and addressed!