Bankers lend expertise to local business students for competition 

To prepare an entry for a national community banking competition, a student team from Pittsburg State’s Kelce College of Business turned to the most logical mentors: local community bankers. 


For the competition, facilitated by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, the team — comprised of Jack Charlton (Harrisonville, Missouri), Jessie Leininger (Shawnee, Kansas), and Sam Holman (Cassville, Missouri) — conducted an original case study. 

“The study highlights why community banks are vital to the American economy, as well as their unique business model that boosts economic growth in local communities,” said Associate Professor of Economics Michael Davidsson, who along with Assistant Professor Alex Binder directed the team. 

The team was asked to analyze the banking environment over the past decade and identify the most significant developments for community banks, and to attempt to predict the most significant changes that will impact the industry over the next 10 years. 

The competition required an official local community bank partner, which GNBank signed on to do. 

“They were required to share their own financial information with us, which can be sensitive, as well as how they conducted their own banking. They went above and beyond for our students,” Davidsson said. 

Throughout the semester, the team met with GNBank President Ken Bloom, Chief Risk Officer Nancy George, Vice President Bryce Anderson. 

Other banks agreed to meet with students to provide a broader perspective and insight, including Commerce Bank President Brian Sutton and Community National Bank President Tony Dellasega. 

Leininger, a finance and business economics major, said they were extremely helpful at sharing data and information and fielding questions. 

"They have walked us through many statistics and ratios that they were able to interpret for us,” Leininger said. “They were well aware we were not experts on the banking industry, and were very patient with us in explaining terminology.” 

Holman, who is triple majoring in computer information systems, economics, and finance, said the project illustrated “just how big community banks can be and how vast the industry is. There is a lot more to banking than it seems."  

That includes community banks being a key provider of funding for local businesses, including CRE loans, small business loans, and agricultural loans. 

Leininger felt competing would provide a valuable experience to apply to future courses and careers. 

"It is great that I now have a tangible piece of work that I have accomplished, and can use it to my advantage when I am on the hunt for a job in the future,” Leininger said. “I also found this to be a great networking opportunity, meeting executives from banks in our community, working with professors that I have had classes with, and spending time and getting to know two fellow students.” 

Charlton, a management and marketing major, saw it as a good opportunity to learn how banks operate in the real world to supplement what he was learning in the classroom.  

“My key takeaway from this project is just how important these small community banks are to their local communities,” he said. “These banks are how many local business owners are able to pursue their dreams. It also taught me how important it is for all local businesses to be involved with their community — forging close relationships is one of the most important things I believe a local business can do.” 

The team must have their work complete by May 16; winners will be announced July 14. 

Each student and faculty advisor on the first-place winning team will receive a $1,000 CSBS scholarship, an opportunity to present their case study at a national conference, and publication in a journal of academic research.

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Kelce College of Business