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p09 Bank of EdwardsvilleBy RITA DUCKWORTH
    It’s a rarity for any business to be around for 150 years, but one local institution reaches that milestone in 2018.
    On Jan. 1, 1868, Edward M. West and his son-in-law, Civil War veteran Major William R. Prickett, opened the doors of a new bank in Edwardsville. Located at the site now occupied by the Madison County Administration Building, they named it West & Prickett. It would become TheBANK of Edwardsville.
    “TheBANK is eight years older than the telephone and 11 years older than the Edison lightbulb,” says Grady Ambuel, senior vice president of marketing. “It’s survived economic depressions, recessions, wars, and an ever-changing banking industry. It’s been through everything and has always come through.”
    TheBANK of Edwardsville is one of the 200 oldest banks in the U.S., at No. 173. And according to iBanknet, which tracks data on financial institutions, it is one of the few to retain its name.
    “This anniversary is not something we take for granted because it’s so rare for any business, and especially a bank,” says Ambuel. “It’s the same name, and in many respects the same institution, 150 years later.”
    Today TheBANK has 18 locations in Illinois and two in Missouri. The most recent is a loan production office in St. Charles, Mo., which opened in November. It joins a full-service Clayton branch in St. Louis. TheBANK has kept a regional focus and according to Ambuel, plans to continue to do so.
    The institution owes its longevity in part to its dedication to the communities it serves. Its roots go deep, not only in banking but in civic and charitable organizations throughout the region.
    “We don’t just write checks (to organizations,)” explains Ambuel. “We’re out there volunteering at charity events and serving on the boards of local groups. We take a lot of pride in that.”
    As part of its continuing effort to serve the “unbanked and underbanked,” TheBANK opened the first fully bilingual, full-service banking location in the region in Fairmont City, Illinois in 2015. TheBANK is also dedicated to education outreach, including scholarships and its Financial Literacy Program. That program helps students at 18 high schools in the Metro East learn valuable life skills to prepare them for a healthy financial future.
    As TheBANK of Edwardsville commemorates its sesquicentennial, it remains focused on its core values: growing and changing along with the rest of the world while remaining true to its local and historical roots.