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ChoiceOne’s Growers Program

ChoiceOne Bank (Honorable Mention) - Sparta, Michigan

2021 Community Commitment Awards Submission

  • Entry Category: Economic Inclusion
  • Asset Size: Small

Meet ChoiceOne’s Growers Program: Helping Unbanked and Spanish Speaking Consumers

ChoiceOne Bank operates in some of the most diverse and abundant agricultural regions in our country. As an agricultural lending partner, we serve hundreds of agricultural businesses in Michigan, from local farms to international distributors.

Many of these farms employ seasonal help from Central and South America, resulting in an influx of unbanked and Spanish speaking consumers into ChoiceOne Bank’s markets. These communities also have many Spanish speaking permanent residents struggling to get service in Spanish. ChoiceOne Bank found a need to help our farmers as well as their employees with safe and efficient banking.

Helping Local Farmers

Our local farmers struggle to find safe and efficient ways to pay their employees as a majority do not have U.S. bank accounts. A common way to pay their employees is with paper checks, often cashed at check cashing facilities. Unfortunately, this results in employees keeping large sums of cash with them compromising their safety when crossing the border to return home, not to mention paying enormous check-cashing fees.

Safer Banking with Growers Program

ChoiceOne Bank saw a need to better serve these employees, provide peace of mind to local farmers, and educate consumers that are often taken advantage of because of their language barrier or lack of a bank account. In 2017, ChoiceOne Bank created the Growers Program to offer better banking alternatives to farmers and their employees. Today, ChoiceOne continues to strengthen the Growers Program and our commitment to the local farmers and their employees to keep banking safe, understandable, and efficient for all.