State Bank & Trust COO Michael Solberg said the payments are part of the bank's $502,000 "Pay It Forward" initiative. "Over the past years, we have been so blessed at State Bank & Trust," he said. "We wanted to put this money in the hands of our employees, who know where the needs are in their communities. Giving back is one of our core values, and we hope this project will have huge impact in our communities in 2008."
The privately owned bank employs 500-plus people at 13 locations in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Employees were told not to use the money for themselves, their families, or families of other bank employees. They could choose an individual cause, pool their money for a larger project, or collaborate with donors outside the bank.
Each employee also received a digital video camera, and was asked to document their project and its impact by June 30, 2008. Employees can then keep their cameras or give them to someone else as a gift.
This year's surprise announcement was made over the weekend, at the bank's annual holiday party -- with special guest Caroline Hodge, a dead-ringer Oprah Winfrey impersonator [see above]. Replete with a stage designed to appear exactly like Winfrey's set, "Oprah" interviewed Solberg about the innovative give-back initiative prior to the bank's distribution of employees' bonus and gift checks.
This morning, Harry Smith, co-host of CBS' "The Early Show," interviewed Solberg and Jill Staffner, the State Bank & Trust employee who coordinated the holiday event. Click here to see CBS News' "Bank Spreads Holiday Cheer" video clip, which includes Smith's interview with Solberg and Staffner, plus footage from last Saturday's holiday party.
GoodBiz113's take: Once again, a highly ingenious and generous initiative sprouts from the small-business sector. Just imagine the impact that such an endeavor could make if, say, a leading money center bank like Wells Fargo and/or an electronics behemoth such as Best Buy did the same thing in all the communities in which they do business. Certainly the latter -- who, by the way, just announced a 52 percent rise in third-quarter profit -- at least has a few extra camcorders to deploy for a larger-scale project of this sort...
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