The Little Bank That Could

Every morning, Mark Young unlocks a door in his house, and takes a step back in time.

In places like Orwell, Vt., the president of the bank can still live in a house attached to the financial center of town, CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports.

It's the very same bank his grandfather ran some 100 years ago.

"If you're on Main Street in Orwell, Vt., you have an obligation to help folks," said Young.

Founded in 1832, things move at a more measured pace here. With $35 million in assets, and notes on 400 mortgages, it's still 20 percent down on every loan, and no re-selling or exotic lending schemes.

"The people know you, you know them," said bank teller Kathy Buxton. "They're not just numbers."

Important, when nationwide, community banks provide 35 percent of new capital to small businesses.

"We're in the fifth generation," Young said.

And like all those generations before him, Young puts his 5,500 customers through tough financial screening, but also "the character test."

"You know, they come in here and sit in that chair," Young said. "It's the interaction with that customer. That with me, anyway, scores as heavily as the credit score and the finances."

Take David Crane, who's building his own home on his own land. As a young self-employed plumber, the big banks all dismissed him.

It was his American dream.

"It is. Made do-able by going to a smaller institution where somebody took time with you personally and understood what your dream was," Crane said.

Young doesn't presume to have all the answers, but wonders if Wall Street would be in this situation if they had listened to what his father always used to say.

"If you can pay the customers a good rate of interest, if you can help your customers, if you can pay your employees and have some money left over at the end of the year - what's better than that?" Young said.

A common sense approach for these uncommon economic times.
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