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DANVILLE, Va.-Newly installed American Bankers Association Chairman Elizabeth Duke made some bold statements at American National Bank’s Focus Day 2004 recently, according to local reports. The Danville Register & Bee reported that Duke said that big banks are responsible for some of the marketshare erosion from community banks, in addition to credit unions. “The plight of the community bank is that they’re competing with the credit unions (and) they’re competing against the big banks,” the Register & Bee quoted her as saying. “They’re getting it from both ends,” she added. “The big banks are very much aware of what you do well, and they are trying to implement them,” Duke said. “You have to do things close to the customer and you have to do things that are right for the community.If (mega banks) ever figure it out, it’s going to be a real nightmare for all of us (in community banking).” Of course, she said credit unions are taking marketshare away from small banks, too, by leveraging their tax exemption and exceeding their charters. Then a few days later at the ABA National Agriculture Bankers Conference, Duke again touched on credit unions. She discussed government sponsored enterprises, the future of rural community banking, women in banking as well as the rising prices of farmland, input costs, and-of course-credit unions. She said redit unions hold nearly $660 million in agricultural business loans as of June 2004. Duke explained that last year, the ABA launched Operation: Credit Union, “a long-term, nationwide commitment to leveling the playing field with credit unions.” She explained, “It’s about taxes. It’s about Community Reinvestment Act obligations. It’s about regulatory equalization. It’s about education, communication and plain hard work. The importance of this national credit union fight can’t be overstated.”

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