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Yesterday the FDIC orchestrated the closure of AMCORE Bank in Rockford. Harris Bank out of Chicago will now take ownership of its assets and deposits.

Although it sounds like AMCORE played a lead role in its own demise (see the Rockford Register Star reporting on it here), I can’t help but be sad about the situation. AMCORE was more than just another bank for Rockford. It was a locally-owned institution that for 100 years had taken a leadership in the civic life of the community. A Rockford Register Star editorial puts it this way:

“The bank’s reach was vast. Not only was it one of the area’s largest employers, it also sponsored races, charity golf tournaments, regional spelling bees and Adopt-a-Soldier programs, to name just a very few. It lent untold leadership talent to nonprofit boards and organizations.”

It was also one of the few companies that stayed loyal to the idea of downtown revitalization. The summer I worked for Rockford Urban Ministries on 7th Street I learned this first hand. AMCORE’s 7th Street headquarters single-handedly sustained several restaurants and shops, giving the business district energy and hope.

As the focus of discussion zeros in on national debates about economic recovery and Wall Street reform, AMCORE’s closure reminds me about the civic fabric that is being so deeply frayed in local communities around the country.

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