Helping to Build Greater Shoals Area

  • Florence, Ala. – Monday, March 18, 2013   He is a leader in the community and in the banking industry. He believes in honesty and hard work and applies that belief to his personal and professional life. He works hard to attract new business and bring awareness to valuable resources in the community. He sees the potential of a thriving area, filled with new businesses and industry. He sees an even greater Shoals Area for everyone.

    He is Bank Independent Shoals Area President Bill Howard.

    Bill, who’s been a part of the Florence community for over 19 years, started with Bank Independent 15 years ago and worked his way up to where he is today, Shoals Area President. He believes one thing that transcends in his personal life and in business—always being honest and up front with people and treats them how you would want to be treated. The simplicity of his philosophy has helped him achieve great success in his career, as well as helping to spur economic development in the Shoals. 

    With his father the president of a bank, Bill had the banking blood in his genes and a wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. He started his career at a larger bank in Birmingham, but had the opportunity to learn and grow in all areas of the banking industry when joining Bank Independent in 1997. His experience at Bank Independent allowed him to glean what it takes to build and grow a bank from every level and department.

     “At an independent bank, you start from the bottom and understand the banking industry as a whole through working in every department,” explains Bill. “I recommend starting at an independent bank to anyone who is new to the banking industry. You’ll be able to build relationships in each department and experience all aspects of how the bank operates.”
    While at Bank Independent, Bill experienced a prosperous economy and also endured some of the toughest economic times; but through it all, the local bank continued to grow and flourish. The experience undoubtedly reiterated the importance of continually looking ahead and being prepared for what is to come—whether that is in the banking industry or any other facet of life.
    There’s no doubt that upper management and team leaders like Bill were the reason for Bank Independent’s rise to the top, reporting record numbers when the overall banking industry struggled.

    “At Bank Independent, we always stay a little bit ahead of the curve, and that comes from our upper management,” he explains. “We always have the best advisors and are constantly looking forward. Bank Independent is prepared no matter what comes down the line.”

    And that preparedness for the future transcends in the way Bank Independent leaders, like Bill, prepare and look ahead at what will drive the economic development in the Shoals Area. Not only has Bill helped in the success and growth of Bank Independent, but he’s also continuing to contribute to the business development through his board memberships, which include the Industrial Development Board, Florence-Lauderdale Port Authority Board and Shoals Chamber of Commerce. Through these boards, he works with other business leaders throughout Alabama, looking ahead to bring in businesses that will have the greatest impact on the Shoals Area and spur the economy and job creation.

    Working with the Industrial Development Board, as well as with the Industry Expansion Committee, Bill is actively involved in helping businesses expand, attracting new business to the area and helping to acquire property in the Industrial Park area.

    “There are some opportunities we are working with that we can’t openly discuss right now, but we know that several large companies will be expanding in our area in the future,” he shares.
    With businesses expanding and the promise of larger industries looking to move to the Shoals, the Port of Florence will also influence future businesses looking to build in this area. The Florence-Lauderdale Port Authority Board works with other community leaders and also hired a new Port Director, Hal Greer, who has experience working with a very large port in Kentucky.
    As Hal and the board continues to grow the port, The Port Authority is still what Bill considers a “diamond in the rough,” but sees great potential for its impact in attracting large businesses and new industry. “You may know that it’s cheaper to move cargo by water than anything else,” as he passionately explains the benefit of the port. “You can get cargo where it’s going at a fraction of the cost. We want people to see how valuable the port is to our area.”

    He goes on to share, “We are in a fight to be recognized and show the community how valuable our port is. Because more and more products are going to be coming through Port of Mobile and up the Tennessee River, we—Hal and the board—are working very hard to gain more recognition and raise money through grants, funding from the city and other sources to build it up and, in turn, help this area.”

    Bill continues to bring his passion for economic development and a greater Shoals with his new role as board member to the Shoals Area Chamber of Commerce. He recently took over as board member for past member and colleague, Executive Vice President-Business Banking Senior-Lender Don Miller. As a newly appointed board member, he intends to continue to grow the Shoals Area, making it more attractive for new industry, and also going over legislation that will benefit the area.

    Whether he is working with customers at the bank or fellow leaders in the community, Bill’s attitude remains constant—treat people right, be up front with everybody and always plan ahead.
    His simple philosophy can be a lesson to us all and encourage us to create a greater Shoals Area.