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5 QUESTIONS WITH Joe Feilmeier President and Chief Operating Officer, Lafayette Ambassador Bank, Bethlehem

Feilmeier
Feilmeier

1 How is the local economy?

The various levels of growth and the industry diversity that we see throughout the Lehigh Valley indicate that our local economy is strong. The Valley has experienced both job and population growth levels that have led the state for much of the last several years.

It’s an exciting time to live and work in the Lehigh Valley, and to see manufacturing, education, finance, health care, transportation and the arts and entertainment all post impressive growth numbers, year over year.

In fact, I believe our Lehigh Valley GDP [gross domestic product] places the region as the 65th largest economy in the nation, larger than that of two states and larger than 108 other countries in the world. 

2 Are businesspeople confident in the economy? Why or why not?

I see a renewed sense of cautious optimism among business leaders.

However, before the business community can plan accordingly in terms of business investment and expanded hiring, there are multiple issues in Washington around health care and tax code that need to be resolved.

3 What changes do you see in banking in the next couple of years?

The banking community has seen consolidation over the past few years, and I think we’ll continue to see banks merged and acquired as we move further along the regulatory horizon.

Larger banks can leverage their investment in compliance-related costs by acquiring others, while smaller community banks will face pressure to either make the investment in people and technology to meet regulatory requirements, or decide to merge with others to meet those compliance standards.

4 How does a bank or business connect with the community?

Banks connect with the community in a variety of ways, providing support through dollars and employee volunteer time. We’re fortunate in the Lehigh Valley to have an abundance of healthy, well-managed banks which support the community in so many ways.

Bank employees actively volunteer on local nonprofit boards and committees to meet their needs and to help them overcome challenges. It’s also very common for bankers to get involved in fundraising efforts, clean up and beautify neighborhoods and teach financial literacy.

5 What is the best career advice that you have ever received?

I could probably fill the rest of this column with great advice from my father.

However, if I had to choose one expression that I’ve come across over the years, the words of wisdom that always made the most sense to me are: “Your employees will care what you know, only when they know that you care.”

Building trust with my colleagues is always a priority. By showing that I truly care and by looking out for their interests, this helps to strengthen our team and foster a positive work environment.

Editor’s note: Appearing periodically, 5 Questions With spotlights a professional’s take on the economy and an industry. If you have a suggestion for a subject for this feature, please email Bill Kline at bkline@lvb.com.

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