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Community Development

Innovative Solutions for Small Startups

Valley National Bank brought new meaning to ‘adaptive reuse’ when it partnered with the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce to turn a former bank operations center into something completely new. Now, the space is a business incubator for local entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses and individuals in need of a workspace—the Lake Martin Innovation Center.

The Innovation Center is centrally located in Alexander City, where the average median household income is $57,636, and 65% of community members have blue collar occupations. Only 33% of residents graduated high school, and less than 12% obtained a bachelor’s degree. While Alexander City is small, Valley National Bank saw its growing need for resources and programs dedicated to supporting small businesses, and chose to take action.

The Lake Martin Innovation Center hosts individual and co-workspace memberships for both startups and blossoming new businesses to excel. In collaboration with the Gateway Education Foundation and the Benjamin Russell school system, Valley National Bank and the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce began teaching students about what it takes to start a business, and the intricacies of entrepreneurship. Students have had the opportunity to work with local business owners and professionals for firsthand accounts of business strategies.

The ongoing success of this program has earned Valley National Bank a 2020 Community Commitment Award from the ABA Foundation. This award recognizes and promotes the many valuable ways banks of all sizes contribute to economic growth, community development and enhancing the quality of life in their communities—and is a true badge of honor for any bank to earn. The Lake Martin Innovation Center embodies Valley National Bank’s dedication to helping community-based businesses prosper and, in turn, fuel the local economy.

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