Membership Spotlight: Local Bank

Local Bank is the only Native American, female-owned financial institution in the country. This bank is mission-driven and customer-focused. One thing that sets Local Bank apart from the rest is their status as a Community Development Financial Institution and a Minority Depository Institution. Local Bank plays a critical role in providing individuals and small businesses with financial services, as well as access to credit, to help spur economic growth and job expansion. One of their main focuses is on rural, underserved and minority communities. By focusing on these groups, they create economic opportunities for individuals and small businesses, which other banks often overlook.  

Local Bank, formerly known as Bank of Cherokee County, was founded more than 100 years ago, just before Oklahoma statehood. Susan Plumb joined the bank alongside her father in 1996 and became CEO and board chairman in 2017. Plumb says the most impactful part about her position within Local Bank is knowing they help people every day.  

Those at Local Bank loved their previous name, Bank of Cherokee County. This name served them well for decades. However, as the bank expanded into Delaware and Sequoyah counties, they needed a name that best fit their expanded presence, while letting the community know they are still their hometown bank. All Local Bank locations are staffed by people from your community. Your kids may go to school with their kids. Or you may even shop at the same grocery store or attend the same church as their staff members. They are the epitome of a local bank. Therefore, the name is one they all agreed on. The community feedback on the name change has been incredible. By changing their name to Local Bank, they feel as though their message of being a part of the community has come across loud and clear. Local Bank relies on their customers just as much as they depend on Local Bank. 

Although Local Bank is no longer named Bank of Cherokee County, their Cherokee roots are stronger than ever, as they expand into the northern and southern counties of the Cherokee Nation. Local Bank has worked with first-language Cherokee speakers to find a way to incorporate the Cherokee heritage into their new brand. With the help of Cherokee speakers, Local Bank settled on the phrase “our community bank” in the Cherokee syllabary, just below the name Local Bank. 

On March 1, 2023, Local Bank held a celebration and public reveal of their new name in the Chapman Center. The Chapman Center is located next to the Park Hill Local Bank location and is their new corporate office. This venue is available for not-for-profit events. It is named in honor of Plumb’s father, Gary Chapman. Chapman is the former board chair and CEO of Bank of Cherokee County. In addition to being a banker, Chapman was also a community fixture for decades, before his passing in 2019. He was a loyal public servant to organizations in Cherokee County and for many years in Cherokee Nation tribal government. Since being a part of the community was so much of who Chapman was, it is only appropriate that a venue intended to serve local non-profits and bring people together bears his name. 

Along with the public reveal of the new name at the Chapman Center, Local Bank also broke ground on a new location in Hulbert that same day. This location is where their very first branch opened more than 100 years ago. The site for the new bank location is currently under construction and will open its doors to the community sometime in 2024. 

Being a part of their communities, as well as community events is a large part of what it means to be a mission-driven bank. Local Bank, as a company, is proud to be a perennial sponsor of community events such as the Tahlequah Christmas and Veterans Day parades, Northeastern State University Foundation’s Emerald Ball and Tahlequah Public Schools Athletics; just to name a few. In addition, Local Bank’s employees generously volunteer their time and talents to boards, committees and non-profit organizations of all sizes across the area.  

Local Bank is strongly rooted in a wide variety of customers, large and small, which helps them weather uncertain times better than banks that are overleveraged in one industry or customer profile. Local Bank is here for their community.  

They have expanded from three to five branches in the past year. Community members can find Local Bank in their legacy locations of Park Hill, Tahlequah and Hulbert, with new locations in Grove and Sallisaw.