Michael Stone - VP, Banking Center Manager, West Lafayette
When you take one step to help your neighbors prosper, it can open doors to life-changing partnerships. That’s what Michael Stone, Vice President Banking Center Manager with First Merchants Bank, discovered when he began searching for ways to help his community as a representative of First Merchants Bank.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael began advising Frankfort Main Street, an organization focused on the development and revitalization of Frankfort, Ind.’s downtown, on how local business owners could access Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to help them stay afloat during an unprecedented time.
“At first, I was just involved in weekly calls in an advisory capacity,” Michael shared. “So many businesses were reaching out because they were so nervous about how they were going to make it during that time, how they were going to keep the doors open.”
As he successfully guided entrepreneurs through the PPP process, or helped them access additional resources, Michael found his love for the community growing and was determined to become more involved.
“I ended up joining the Frankfort Main Street board,” he shared. “And I really love getting to help with fun events like the town’s annual hot dog festival and helping drive new businesses to Frankfort’s downtown – a vibrant downtown really helps lift up the whole community.”
That partnership has elevated First Merchants’ role in the community and has resulted in other opportunities to help Frankfort residents prosper.
Michael also launched a recent partnership with the local Sheriff’s department, providing financial wellness education to inmates involved in the county’s work-release program.
“These are people who are trying to get their lives back on track and giving them a solid financial foundation is part of that,” Michael said. “They’re so eager and excited to learn, and we’re so proud to be even a small part of helping them succeed as they start a new chapter in life.”
“It’s been a real success, too – every time I see the sheriff he says, ‘We’ve got to get you all back out there for another session,’” Michael added with a laugh.
Michael recently started a new role as the Banking Center Manager of our West Lafayette, Ind. Banking center, and said he’s excited about finding new opportunities to help his community grow. And he’s already making an impact – the West Lafayette banking center recently led the region in collecting donations for the Community Cancer Network, a local non-profit that helps area cancer patients cover unexpected costs like transportation, wigs, and other non-medical and non-treatment items.
Michael said he still plans to stay involved in Frankfort, however.
When it comes to getting involved, Michael encourages others to take the plunge.
“Don’t be afraid to start with your professional expertise,” he shared. ““Everyone is looking for help – especially for people from our line of work. I can’t think of a situation I’ve encountered where someone has said, ‘No I’m not interested in improving my finances.’"
Whether that’s joining the local Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit board, or volunteering your time helping someone work out a budget – it can lead you to some unexpected and life-changing places.
“You know, this is why I do what I do. I love to help people – whether they be businesses or individuals in the community – to help them prosper and achieve their financial goals,” Michael said.
First Merchants Bank’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility compels us to invest in our communities by finding ways to reduce inequalities, improve the quality of our neighborhoods, and promote positive economic mobility though our five community pillars: Employee Empowerment; Community Investments and Charitable Giving; Financial Wellness; Community Home Lending; and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This series features First Merchants teammates who embody the spirit and impact of the company’s Vision: “to enhance the financial wellness of the diverse communities we serve.”