Article Written By: Monica Kreiger| Marketing Team Leader | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
We are now mid-way through the 2nd year of our Giving Together Facebook Program and we have some exciting updates! This program has been a great way for us to give back to the communities we serve in an engaging way. Each quarter, non-profit organizations are able to submit a short application to be considered to compete for public votes via our Facebook page. At the end of a weeklong voting period, the organization with the most votes receives a $5,000 donation. Not a bad way to end a week!
Since we started the program in January 2013, there have been over 16,000 votes cast and we have had six $5,000 recipients including 3 Mile Project, Restorers Inc., Arts in Motion, Family Futures, Conductive Learning Center, and our most recent recipient, The Geek Group. Each organization is unique and it has been such a treat visiting these groups and learning about what they do and the impact that they have on others.
Due to our recent expansion, as of July 2014, the program is opening up to include a much larger portion of Michigan. We are excited to be able to open up the program to reach a wider audience and to learn about organizations across the state making a difference in their communities. Applications are now being accepted through July 31 for third quarter. The organizations selected will be announced on our Facebook page on August 29 and voting will start on September 15.
For full details on the program, including application dates, voting periods, a list of Michigan counties included and full program rules, you can visit www.MercantileGivingTogether.com. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates!
Article Written By: Michael Price | Chairman and CEO | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
We are pleased to announce the merger of Mercantile Bank Corporation and Firstbank Corporation. The new organization will be the third largest Michigan-based bank holding company, with 53 branches state-wide and nearly $3 billion in total assets.
We believe this merger will strengthen our competitive position throughout the region, helping us to better serve our customers by enhancing the customer experience and expanding the breadth of our product portfolio. Both banking organizations share similar corporate cultures which emphasize providing excellent customer service and building strong client relationships.
Our expanded footprint means more convenience for our customers, as these complementary businesses have essentially no market overlap. No branch closures are anticipated as part of this merger and we expect that our branch employees will remain intact.
Both banking organizations have solid, knowledgeable management teams that are fully committed to the combined new company. We anticipate receiving all shareholder and regulatory approvals for this merger this fall, and completing the merger process by the end of this year.
From an executive management perspective, Tom Sullivan, the current President and CEO of Firstbank, will serve as Chairman of the combined organization for one year. I will serve as President and CEO. I enjoyed working with Tom to bring this merger together, and I am happy to continue to work with him as we finalize the merger process.
Additionally, we are taking measures, including the creation of merger integration teams, to ensure that all our customers have a very positive experience throughout the transition. We will continue to disseminate information about the merger in the days and weeks ahead. I want to reiterate that we believe that this merger-of-equals is a terrific opportunity to provide our customers with unmatched resources and services built on a tradition of excellence.
Article Written By: Andrea Whitney| Senior Accounting Specialist| Mercantile Bank of Michigan
A century ago, a small group of physicians and lay people in New York City came together to launch a fight against cancer — a disease that, at the time, almost always ended in death. That grass roots effort eventually became the American Cancer Society, which officially marks its 100th birthday this year. Thanks to the many efforts of those people and countless others since 1913, there have been tremendous advances in research, advocacy, education and support.
Despite these accomplishments, there is much more work to be done before we have a world without cancer. Enter the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life- their signature and largest fundraiser. It is an organized, overnight community walk where teams of people camp out around a track. Members of each team take turns walking around to signify a unified effort. It’s an opportunity to Celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, Remember those lost and Fight Back against a disease that has taken too much!
In 2002, a group of Mercantile Bank employees decided to coordinate a team to be involved in the Ada Michigan event. My beloved Grandma LaVonne had recently been diagnosed with cancer after just 2 months prior a mammogram came up negative. I was angry and so jumped at the opportunity to be involved. I have been participating in these events around various communities ever since. I have even chaired an event for 5 years and have learned so much from other volunteers and their amazing stories. Relay for Life has given me the opportunity to turn my anger and sadness into positive energy and help others to fight back!
The Mercantile Bank team has had amazingly strong support from Executive management and employees every year since the first event in 2002. We have had teams at the Wyoming, Holland, Sparta, and East Lansing events-raising over $400,000 over the past 11 years! This year the committee has decided to start a team at the Downtown Grand Rapids event, taking place at Ah-Nab-Awan Park on June 14 @1pm – June 15@1pm. We have already raised over $22,000 and expect that to grow within the next week!
As employees of Mercantile Bank, we will continue to raise money in an effort to eradicate cancer! We urge others to get involved in any way they can and make a world with more birthdays!
Article Written By: Monica Kreiger| Marketing Team Leader | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Sustainability. We’ve all heard this buzz word but what does it really mean to businesses in West Michigan? That was the topic at Mercantile’s recent luncheon on a beautiful spring afternoon at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Special guest speaker Norman Christopher, Executive Director of Sustainability at Grand Valley State University and author of Sustainability Demystified spoke on the topic and led a panel discussion of local government and business leaders including Mayor George Heartwell, Kurt Hassberger of Rockford Construction and Kerri Miller of Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber Inc.
Sustainability best practices such as assessment and planning, clean technologies, Green/LEED building and waste minimization were some of the ideas presented as ways for businesses to gain a competitive advantage and improve financial performance in today’s changing markets. Sustainability plays an important role in the growth of business in West Michigan and Grand Rapids has embraced it. Grand Rapids has been recognized by the United Nations as a “Regional Center of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development” and in 2010 the US Chamber of Commerce gave our city the “Nation’s Most Sustainable City” award.
Thank you to Mr. Christopher and our distinguished panel for an afternoon of engaging and thought provoking conversation.
Article Written By: Lonna Wiersma | SVP Human Resource Director | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
For the ninth year in a row, Mercantile Bank of Michigan has been selected as one of “West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For”, an award that we are very proud of achieving.
To be nominated, companies must recognize employees as their greatest asset and work with imagination and assurance to create exceptional work environments. After both a lengthy questionnaire and employee surveys, the competition identifies and then honors organizations throughout West Michigan that display a commitment to excellence in their human resource practices and employee enrichment. The questionnaire and survey focus on areas such as communication, work-life balance, employee education, recognition, retention and more. For nine years in a row, we have been both nominated and consequently, selected as a winner of this prestigious award.
For Mercantile Bank of Michigan, this award continues to
· Confirm to our directors, employees, customers, vendors, and the business community that Mercantile Bank of Michigan is committed to excellence;
· Give us an opportunity to create awareness and generate visibility to attract the Best & Brightest employees and customers; and
· Provide access to information on current trends and issues affecting the growth and success of West Michigan’s business community
On May 2nd, at a Gala event, in front of industry leaders, influencers and peers, we will be awarded a plaque along with 100 other Best and Brightest companies in the West Michigan region. We are thrilled to be a part of this elite group!
Thank you to all our directors and employees for making Mercantile Bank the BEST that it can be!
Congratulations to all the Winners!
Article Written By: Sherri Calcut | SVP Mortgage & Consumer Loan Manager | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
A recent Fannie Mae survey shows confidence in selling a home climbed to 23% in January, up from only 11% in January 2012. There are signs West Michigan is doing even better. Houses are being built and put up for sale around the region. Falling inventories are both a positive and negative factor for our recovery. They have pushed prices higher, which helps underwater homeowners, but have also created a shortage of homes for potential buyers. The inventory of homes for sale remains 28.9% below the levels seen in January of 2012. With fewer distressed properties and underwater homes, more home sellers in 2013 will be persuaded to place their homes on the market and move up. Local West Michigan Realtors have seen a significantly lower supply of inventory with an average month’s supply nearing 3 months in many areas. As the inventory issue works its way back to a traditional balance, the housing market should continue a robust recovery during 2013.
Residential construction expects its brightest year in nearly a decade. The residential market rebound should grow by more than one-third this year, according to the Home Builders Association of Michigan. With record low new home production for the past several years, pent-up demand is finally beginning to burst through the marketplace. There are several factors being cited for the new construction rebound, including a dearth of available homes on the market, increased hiring, low interest rates and a new consumer mindset as people return to work and gain confidence they will continue to have a job. The law of supply and demand will encourage buyers to take advantage, and there is still plenty of time before inventory is replenished to the industry average of a six months supply of desirable homes on the market.
In effort to help foster new home purchase activity, Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) currently has a Homebuyer Assistance Grant Program available for the purchase of a single-family, owner occupied, principal residence. This program supports both non-military and military Homebuyers. Homebuyers are eligible for up to $3,000 in grant money not to exceed 25% of the sales price. There is no lien and no repayment is required. There are no income limits, however the Homebuyers must not have purchased or refinanced a principal residence in the last 3 years from the date of the new home being purchased.
If you have any questions feel free to contact our Mortage Lending Team.
Article Written By: David Tilley | Creative Media Specialist | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Early last year we were looking at unique ways we could give back to our local community. We knew that we wanted to 1) be able to have participants be directly involved, 2) support businesses that make an impact on our local economy, and 3) make it fun.
The Merc Mob was born.
Merc Mob - A social flash mob of Mercantile employees who volunteer to spend their lunch at the designated restaurant. We ask others to join us though Facebook/Twitter. We do this to support local businesses, start conversations, and generate buzz for the local community.
We pick the time and the restaurant, then invite people to join us in mobbing their space, eating their food, and giving them exposure. Everyone eats lunch, so by coordinating a large group of people to do it at all at one space, we have the ability to make a cool impact. The restaurants have been excited because they get customers in who are excited to buy their food, and they can see featured photos of the event posted on our Facebook and Twitter accounts (on occasion videos too). We’ve been doing Merc Mobs monthly for close to a year now and are excited about the enthusiasm it’s received from the community.
Join us tomorrow, the 25th, as we mob Rockwell‘s (45 S. Division Ave, GR) at 11:30am. Also be sure to watch our Facebook for future mobs. Gather your friends, grab a fork, and dig into supporting local businesses!
Article Written By: Bob Kaminski| President | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
When Mercantile Bank opened its doors 15 years ago, it was our mission to be viewed as one of the top community banks in the state of Michigan and the Midwest. We also wanted to be a good corporate citizen and valued community partner. Our 15 Days of Giving Contest has allowed Mercantile to give something back to the communities in Michigan that have been so supportive of us over those 15 years, plus have a little fun commemorating our anniversary.
Our objective for the contest was to provide some financial support to the excellent Michigan non-profit organizations that perform valuable services each and every day. When we structured this contest we wanted to allow for participation by the public, and, since Mercantile has made social media an important piece of our marketing outreach, we decided to develop a public vote system on Facebook. We have been very pleased with the public response that has occurred. There have been thousands of votes placed thus far, as people have supported the non-profits of their choice, trying to get them one of the $1,000 daily prizes. Many of the non-profits have also used social media and e mail to get the word out about the contest, trying to coordinate as many votes as possible.
Mercantile has a wonderful team of bankers who deliver world class products and services to its clients. Our employees are also very active in the communities in which they live and work. They participate as board members on non-profits; they volunteer on management committees for these organizations; they work on capital campaigns; they participate in walks to raise money and awareness for their causes, plus many other endeavors each year. The Mercantile staff is “all in” with community involvement!
We at Mercantile are looking forward to the conclusion of the daily contest on November 19th, and the $5,000 winner randomly drawn from our complete list of nominees on November 20. We thank you for your support of our organization and this contest.
Article Written By: Monica Kreiger| Marketing Team Leader | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Children who can’t read will someday be adults who can’t read.
Childhood illiteracy is something we don’t often think about but it’s a real problem right here in our own city. Heart of West Michigan United Way’s Schools of Hope works to combat the problem of illiteracy in our schools with their In School Tutoring program and Mercantile employees are once again stepping up to the plate as mentors.
It’s definitely a cause that our mentors are committed to. They work consistently for the entire school year with the same child in grades 1st through 3rd at Harrison Park Elementary in Grand Rapids. Mentors spend 30 minutes each week working with their student on improving their reading skills and encouraging them in their studies.
As a past mentor, I was shocked to learn that the only book in some of the student’s homes was a phone book. Myself a mother of a young child (who was only 3 at the time and not yet able to read) I thought about the rows of books that lined her bookshelf. At that moment I realized how important the gift of reading is in the life of a child.
Another way Mercantile employees support the Schools of Hope program is by donating school supplies at the beginning of the school year to the Schools of Hope Stuff the Bus program. Over 70% of children in the Grand Rapids, Godfrey-Lee, Godwin and Cedar Springs school districts qualify for free or reduced lunch, meaning their parents often can’t provide the school supplies they need to succeed. Children look forward to the start of the school year and arriving with new supplies, but many families in our area can’t afford even the basic notebooks and pencils. That’s where we come in, by donating pencils, notebooks, glue and crayons. It seems simple to most people, but it really does help to provide these children with a fresh start for the school year.
In the words of a child involved with Schools of Hope:
“I never used to read books. I didn’t even like reading, but now I enjoy reading. I feel good about myself because I learned how to read better all because of you. It is fun reading with a mentor because they help you solve stuff. Thank you for teaching me how to read better.”
For more information on how you can become a Schools of Hope Mentor, visit their website.
Article Written By: Justin Karl | Commercial Loan Officer | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Many people know that Mercantile Bank strives to be a leader in the community, and the Bank and its employees contribute to many worthy causes throughout metro Grand Rapids, Holland and Lansing. Mercantile has a long history of community involvement, and it is imperative to the Bank’s success. “We want to be a part of the fabric of the very community we serve. What that means is being a great community partner,” Mercantile’s President Bob Kaminski recently said.
With as many great things that are happening in West and Central Michigan, sometimes, Mercantile’s customers’ community involvement can be overlooked. Recently, the Bank became a sponsor of a new initiative called CompassionIT formed by long time Bank customer, Trivalent Group, Inc.
Trivalent is an IT company that assists local businesses with data and network issues. Besides providing data hosting, cloud networks, hardware sales and installation, the Company also provides Professional IT Services to customers. Trivalent helps design, plan and implement the IT component of a small or mid-sized business in order to assure optimization and best practices. Trivalent has been so successful, that in both 2011 and 2012 the company was named one of the Top 100 Managed Service Providers in the World by MSPmentor. (www.mspmentor.net)
In addition to providing world class products and services to their customers, Trivalent is very community focused, and its corporate values are closely aligned with Mercantile Bank’s. In talking with Larry Andrus, CEO of Trivalent, his passion for supporting local communities and nonprofits is evident. “At Trivalent we have developed a culture and collective conscience of supporting each other and those that are providing support to others that need positive assistance the most,” Larry said when asked about Trivalent’s philosophy.
With the rate of change in the technology industry and the funding issues many non-profit companies are currently experiencing, Trivalent has seen the need for updated technology and IT Services for many charitable organizations expand in the recent years. These products and services could be critical to the missions of these entities. That is why Trivalent has formed CompassionIT, an initiative to provide at least $30,000 worth of technology services to deserving local nonprofits. Four other finalists will each receive the support of Trivalent staff in analyzing their technology systems, and creating technology roadmaps to guide future efforts (a $4,000 value, each).
“We realize that technology keeps many nonprofits from reaching their full potential. With CompassionIT, we’re seeking to remove the technology barrier so that nonprofits can be all that they can be,” said Mr. Andrus.
The winner of CompassionIT will be determined by a combination of public vote and a selection committee. The best part is that nominations are open to any qualifying nonprofit, and can be made by anyone via the website www.TGcompassionIT.com. The nomination period runs from October 1 to October 31, and the Selection Committee will narrow the nominations to the Top 20 by November 12. Public voting on the website to determine the Top 5 will run from November 15 through November 30.
The final selection from the Top 5 will be done by a 6 member panel, each getting 1 vote, and a second public vote which will cast the seventh vote. The second public vote will begin on December 10 and run through December 21. The Final Award will be announced on January 10, 2013.
This initiative that Trivalent has come up with is another example of one of the many great things happening in our community, and the Bank is very honored to be a part of it. Please consider making any nominations for nonprofits that are close to your heart, and please consider voting to help determine the winner!
Visit www.TGcompassionIT.com for more information.