WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -As 2001 winds down, the competition is opting to focus on the positive by emphasizing its role as a community partner. From a bank that focuses on the "average Joe" to credit card programs that help schools here is a glimpse at the friendlier side of banking: Six Washington, Pennsylvania-area banks have shown their support for a new baseball field with a $1.5 million loan. Bankers from Charleroi Federal Savings Bank, Community Bank, Dollar Bank, Steel Valley Bank, Washington Federal Savings Bank and Wheeling National Bank recently inked the deal that will make the $6.1 million project a reality. The yet-to-be-named 3,200-seat ballpark is the centerpiece of a 25-acre sports complex being built adjacent to the Washington Crown Center in North Franklin Township. A Frontier League baseball franchise will share the ballpark with California State University's baseball team, which has already signed a 30-year lease. Forget about small businesses and the wealthy, Riverside Bank of Central Florida is focusing on "the working guy" and plans to cater to the needs of those with fairly small balances. According to president-designate Colon Terrell, income will be generated from consumer loans, mortgages and non-sufficient fund charges while the bank emphasizes service. Approximately 50% to 60% of the bank's mortgage portfolio will be kept in inventory. The "working guy" bank is set to open its doors at the beginning of next year. San Francisco-based United Commercial Bank has spread its wings to reach out to Chinese-Americans in Los Angeles. Catering to this ethnic group United Commercial Bank ATMs and Web site offer language options of Mandarin, Cantonese and English. In addition, the Web site offers news from the Pacific Rim, a calendar of events scheduled in local Chinese-American communities, and plans are underway to include international trade banking services and letters of credit by yearend. United Commercial Bank also helps immigrants from Hong Kong, mainland China, and Taiwan obtain a driver's license and social security number and offers unique products to meet their needs. Citizens Bank and Pittsburgh-based grocery store chain Giant Eagle, Inc. have signed an agreement to place 41 Citizens branches in Giant Eagle stores. The "Green Machines," will be free to Citizens customers, for deposits, cash withdrawals and funds transfers. All Citizens branches located in a Giant Eagle store will be open seven days a week. Under the agreement, Citizens will begin operating the 41 branches in Giant Eagle stores in the Pittsburgh region, Erie and the Johnstown/Altoona area beginning December 1. In addition, Citizens has agreed to open additional grocery store-based branches in Giant Eagle stores in western Pennsylvania. Talk about taking the banking experience to another level- Westernbank Puerto Rico is offering customers free valet parking and complimentary chocolates. In addition, younger customers even have their own miniature counters, computers and bimonthly newsletters. Finally a bank for those truly devoted pet lovers – Petloversbank.com. Launched by Foothill Independent Bank earlier this year, the online bank offers consumers who open an online checking account not only customized checks featuring their favorite pet but also pet health tips, special discounts and a comprehensive network of pet product and service providers. To encourage its customers to spend more this season, Chase has launched the "Choose Chase Holiday Sweepstakes" which offers the chance to win a $20,000 cash grand prize. Other prizes include a Caribbean cruise, travel packages to Hawaii and Orlando, and $1,000 shopping sprees. In addition, bonus entries will be awarded when Chase cardholders use their cards at such select retailers as Bed Bath & Beyond, FTD.com, Godiva, Samsonite and The Sharper Image to name a few. The promotion will run through the end of January. Citibank has launched the Citi Upromise Platinum Select MasterCard to help consumers pay for a college education. With the no annual fee card, cardholders receive 1% of eligible purchases made on the card as college contributions to their Upromise account. Under the Upromise program, families can multiply Upromise college contributions by building their own savings network of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, all directing their contributions to a child's account. The Upromise service also offers the option of investing the contributions in a "529″ college savings plan. First USA and General Mills have joined forces to offer VISA cards that can potentially generate up to $10,000 annually for each of the more than 67,000 American schools enrolled in the Box Tops program. General Mills launched the Box Tops for Education program in 1996 and has raised more than $50 million for America's schools. The new Box Tops VISA card donates 1% of all purchases to the enrolled school of choice. A maximum of $10,000 may be generated for any one school per year from the VISA program. MasterCard has unleashed a holiday promotion offering "Priceless" gifts to share with loved ones. The "Priceless Holiday Gifts" promotion will award one winning cardholder with five "Priceless" experiences including an African Safari, a visit from a celebrity chef, behind-the-scenes access to the Houston Space Center, enrollment in the Formula One Race and Racing School in Great Britain, and VIP treatment at the My VH-1 Music Awards. To enter consumers simply use their MasterCard for purchases until the end of the year. Bank of America has unveiled a $60 million advertising campaign that capitalizes on its sponsorship of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City to promote credit cards, online banking and other services. The campaign includes a series of five television commercials scheduled to run nationally for13 weeks featuring various Bank of America "employees" failing their tryouts for the Olympic team. The bank plans to have billboards and Internet advertising while running print ads in major national magazines and newspapers through February 2002.

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