Since opening its doors in 1956 as Empire Bank on what was then the southeast outskirts of Springfield, Central Bank in Springfield has dramatically expanded business services along with its footprint.
Throughout the years, Central Bank acquired Nixa Bank, Pleasant Hope Bank and Webster County Bank. It added branches in Springfield on the Medical Mile and North Kansas Expressway, and in Hammons Tower and Chesterfield Village, as well as in Ozark. More mergers – with Greene County Bank and, later, with Citizens National Bank – added another five facilities.
Today, the bank operates 21 banking centers and more than 40 ATMs locally.
Joselyn Baldner, president and CEO, puts the success on the bank’s employees.
“It’s always about our team, the talent we have involved. And I think our team is really motivated to take care of our clients, so that’s where it starts,” she says.
While enduring the same disruptions experienced by everyone in the early days of the pandemic, Central Bank’s employees found ways to pump dollars into the economy. Officials say during round one of federal Paycheck Protection Program lending in 2020, the team processed 1,200 loans tallying $111 million. The impact was felt by more than 14,000 locally employed workers. In last year’s round two of PPP lending, totals so far are 400 loans worth $22 million, affecting 4,400 employees.
“There comes a sense of pride for our employees in taking care of the community when there’s a time of need,” Baldner says.
All the while, Baldner says the bank’s officers remained focused on employees’ needs.
“We all know if you can’t take care of things at home, it’s pretty difficult for you to perform at work,” she says. “There was more going on in our community than what was going on in our company.”
To support employees, the bank paid 100% of base or hourly pay for working parents who had to stay home to care for children as a result of closed school or day care and who could not work from home, officials say. As the pandemic wore on, working parents were compensated at 60% of their base or hourly pay if they had to stay home to care for children. Central Bank also paid COVID-19 leave at 100% for symptoms, testing or any other COVID-related matters.
The bank also has shown support for the larger community. Between 2018 and 2020, Central Bank donated $2.2 million to nonprofits, civic groups, schools and capital campaigns in Springfield, officials say. It also has donated its second home to the Eden Village community for people with disabilities and homelessness.
A baked goods vendor at Farmers Market of the Ozarks expanded to a brick-and-mortar operation; the first lending center for Old Missouri Bank opened; and London Calling Pasty Co. added a new food truck.