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KC honors First National Bank

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By Dave Bell

First National Bank of Vandalia was named 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year by the entrepreneurship program at Kaskaskia College at a ceremony Saturday night at the Centralia campus.

The bank was commended for its role in raising funds for the college’s Vandalia campus and the Family YMCA of Fayette County's building.
The award was presented by the Kaskaskia College Teachers and Coaches Entrepreneurship Program. Accepting it were the bank’s board chairman, Todd Shulman, and its president, Ernie Chappel.
“It’s humbling for the First National Bank to be mentioned in the same group as the past recipients,” Chappel said. “Every recipient of the award has made it part of their culture and mission to ‘pay it forward’ in the communities they serve.
“That’s what defines us as a community bank – we, too, believe in giving back to the communities we serve.”
Previous recipients from this part of the college’s district include Woolsey Brothers of Vandalia and DeMoulin Brothers  of Greenville and Centralia.
The bank, which was chartered in 1865, is one of the 10 oldest banks in the Illinois. Based in Vandalia, it expanded beyond its hometown in 1994 with the purchase of First State Bank of Patoka and Ramsey State Bank. In 2008, it purchased Mulberry Grove Banking Center and Greenville Banking Center. The bank currently has about 100 employees
The goal of the Teachers and Coaches Entrepreneurship Program is to promote understanding and support of the free enterprise system. In addition to the entrepreneur of the year program, other activities funded through the program include a distinguished lecture series, workforce development scholarships, and general support for community, entrepreneurial and economic development programs and events at the college.
The college supports the program through courses, workshops and programs focused on entrepreneurial topics.
In accepting the award, Chappel pointed out that there are more than 20 community banks that are headquartered in the Kaskaskia College District. All of them, he said, are giving back to their communities in some way.
“When the economy turned down in 2007 and 2008, a lot of you folks heard the mantra that the banks had to start loaning again to get the economy going. You need to know that community banks in this district are the economic engines that keep the district running.”
Kaskaskia College President Dr. Jim Underwood congratulated the bank for winning the award.
“First National Bank has been a significant contributor to the community, and has been instrumental in the economy of the region,” said Underwood. “The company is indicative of the entrepreneurial spirit and possesses the leadership qualities that the TCEP program recognizes.”