In 1851, a few local Rondout Valley businessmen decided to pool their money at start a bank in the Stockade District of Kingston. They felt a bank would benefit business and the local community, so they made one.
These days it isn’t quite that simple to open a financial institution, but it is about that easy to open an account with Ulster Savings.
|The Ulster Savings team for the new Lake Katrine branch.|
This year, 2016 will mark the local bank’s 165th anniversary in business. Since that cavalier group of entrepreneurs joined fiscal forces, the bank’s services have expanded considerably. There are now a full service, one-stop-shop for both business and retail customers. They offer checking and savings accounts, loans, insurance, investments, tax prep, mortgages, payroll, accounting, and bookkeeping.
And they haven’t sold out, they are still local. Aside from the small business loans and mortgages that strengthen the local economy, the main thing this means is that they give back to our community. Senior Vice President Joan Eck explains, “We supported over 200 nonprofits in 2015 alone. Over the last 12 years, we have donated $8 million from our profits. We are a very health savings bank, and thus we are able to give a large percentage of what we make back into the community.”
Healthy indeed, the bank has 14 branches, with 3 opening in the last month alone! The new locations are in Lake Katrine across from Adams, in Newburgh on Route 300 next to Home Depot, and in Wappingers Falls on Route 9 next to the Toyota Dealership. Eck explains, “We already had customers there, we are just trying to make our branches more convenient. Many people commute across counties.”
The new branches will create about 12 new full-time positions. Joan says proudly, “We offer excellent benefits and good wages. We also have a very good educational program. If employees want to go to college or training classes, most would be paid by USB, so our employees are able to grow.”
Ulster Savings is hopeful that 2016 will be a year of economic growth for our region. Joan says enthusiastically, “We have a lot of money to lend. We are hoping that both business and retail will grow. We’ll want to loan more money in 2016 and help businesses that want to expand, purchase buildings, or people who want to start new business, buy homes, and invest in the area. Interest rates are at historic lows; now is a good time.”
Joan Joan has been at Ulster Savings for 25 years and loves what she does. “We just believe so much in making a difference in our community. We really want to improve quality of life for areas we’re in. And we are really helping businesses and people find their financial goals, saving for retirement, buying a home, starting a business.”
Joan recalls a heart-stirring interaction she had with a woman several years back. “I was at the mortgage closing with a woman, and she had tears in her eyes. And I always remember she said to me, ‘Now my children can finally invite friends over after school to do homework.’ I guess the place she was living before was not in great condition and the kids felt embarrassed. But imagine the difference that that is making in their lives. It sounds basic, but it is a huge thing. We’re trying to help people figure out can they retire one day? Can they expand their business? Can they buy a home? It’s important for people to be able to accomplish those things.”