Who We Are

Community Bankers Association of Ohio (CBAO) is organized to establish and maintain an informed network of independent community banks in the state of Ohio.

(Produced by Richwood Marketing)

At CBAO, we are always looking to the future as we realize that we cannot change the past…we can only learn from it. In the 43 years of our existence, much has changed, but we still remain focused on our original mission of increasing the value of independent financial institutions.

As those who preceded us have told...

"In late December, 1973, four community bankers met to discuss the possibility of establishing an association for the independent community banks of Ohio. At that time, there was a tremendous amount of merger activity in Ohio.

These four bankers realized that one of the most important benefits of an association would be group purchasing to obtain products and services at a competitive price. Group purchasing strength would allow member banks to remain competitive, slow the merger rate, and preserve a strong community bank presence in Ohio. The association's original purpose was to find ways to help community banks be more competitive through collective bargaining and developing mutual programs and purchase contracts.

The definition of a community bank was a local business with a community-based board of directors, offering services based on local market factors, and investing in the local economy with both money and community service.

The four bankers decided that if they could persuade nine to twelve other bankers to attend a meeting in Columbus in February, 1974, they would proceed with a plan to establish the Independent Bankers Association of Ohio (the name was later changed to Community Bankers Association of Ohio (CBAO)). Twelve bankers from across Ohio attended that meeting where officers were elected and a law firm was selected to draw up the charter and code of regulations. In April, 1974, CBAO conducted its first annual convention, adopted its new charter and code of regulations, and elected its first board of directors.

The officers and directors did not want members to pay high annual dues. This meant that in order to be a viable association, CBAO would have to rely very heavily on non-dues revenues to subsidize operations. In 1978, CBAO's board of directors established the CBAO Service Corporation (CBAO-SC) and the CBAO Insurance Agency, Inc. (CBAO-IA). Royalties received by the CBAO-SC and commissions received by the CBAO-IA formed the financial base of the association. Convention and special events, education and training, increased communications, and a magazine also generate income and keep CBAO in touch with members.

Shortly after the association was formed, Jeffery Robb volunteered his company's Granville offices and conference rooms for CBAO's use. CBAO hired Jeffery Robb’s wife to handle the office duties, and contracted David Morrison, an attorney based in the Robb building, as a part-time executive director.

By January, 1980, it became apparent that if CBAO was going to accomplish anything worthwhile for its members, or even continue to exist, a full-time executive must be hired to run the organization. C. Scott Williams, one of the original founders and president of Farmers and Merchants Bank, Montpelier, became the first executive director of CBAO in March, 1980. The annual operating budget at that time was approximately $85,000, and community bank membership had grown to 88 banks."

Today, CBAO and its subsidiaries continue the mission of keeping our members competitive and preserving a strong community bank presence in Ohio. We continue to offer the highest quality products and services, ranging from insurance to credit cards, with negotiated discounts and fee income opportunities, which increase our members banks' bottom line. We offer unique and useful networking opportunities through our regional meetings, a hospitality house at the Memorial Tournament, an annual convention and trade show, high quality education and training seminars and webcasts, strong and focused legislative and regulatory representation in Ohio and Washington, D.C., and frequent communications. Our staff of seven employees and an annual operating budget of approximately $1,500,000 provide us with the expertise, commitment, and financial capability to ensure many more years of prosperity and growth, for both the association and its members.

Community Bankers Association of Ohio (CBAO) is organized to establish and maintain an informed network of independent community banks in the state of Ohio that will have the influence and commitment to effectively serve, protect and promote the interests of its members through:

  • Its representation of the principles of independent community banking in the state of Ohio to state and national governmental officials, the press and the public; and

  • Its promotion, presentation and advancement of education to officers, directors and other personnel of independent community banks in pursuit of high ethical standards and superior business practices in banking operations; and

  • Its research and development of opportunities whereby its membership as a whole can benefit from the pooling of financial and human resources in order to gain economic and competitive advantages.

Generally, community banks have assets < $10 billion and meet the following criteria:

  • Must be operated under the control and direction of an independent management team with decision-making ability in the communities that they serve.

  • Must have primary focus of investing local deposits and making loans for the financial and social betterment of the communities that they serve.

  • They focus attention on the needs of local families, small businesses, and farmers.

  • Must be involved in the communities that they serve through financial and volunteer time commitments.

  • They are known for their quality service and personal attention.

  • They offer nimble decision-making on loans as they consider character, family history and discretionary spending instead of relying solely on impersonal criteria such as credit scoring.

  • Fees for checking accounts and other financial services are typically lower than those charged at other types of financial institutions.

  • Must be a depository financial institution.

  • Must be a commercial bank, savings bank, mutual savings bank, or savings and loan association.

  • Must have an independent bank charter from at least one of the appropriate regulatory agencies such as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Ohio Division of Financial Institutions, or Federal Reserve Bank (FRB).

  • Must be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

  • Must represent and promote the independent community bank philosophy.

Throughout its history, CBAO has served its members proudly by being active and involved in other national and state banking and business organizations. We do this to expand our resource base and thereby the resources for our members. 

CBAO maintains memberships in the following organizations:

In honor of one of our founding members and a dedicated community banker, we created the Ray Campbell Memorial Scholarship. Each year, a minimum of one $500 scholarship is awarded to a high school senior that is a child, stepchild or foster child of a community bank employee located in Ohio in Ray's memory.

CBAO is accepting applications for the Ray Campbell Scholarship until April 15, 2018. Full details are available on our Ray Campbell Scholarship page

Please contact Aza Bittinger, Jr. at ahbittinger@cbao.com or (614) 846-2238 for additional information.