Bank's rewards program seen creating 'buzz' for local businesses

FRANKLIN — Franklin Savings Bank has become the first financial institution in New Hampshire to introduce a rewards program designed strengthen the regional economy by encouraging its customers to patronize local, independent merchants, while at the same time providing these businesses with the means to expand their markets and increase their sales.

"As a community bank with strong ties to the communities we serve, we understand the importance of supporting families as well as our locally-owned businesses to enhance the economic viability of the markets we serve," Jeffrey Savage, president and chief executive officer, said of the Buzz Points program.

Buzz Points rewards its members with points each time they make a signature transaction with their debit cards. But, unlike similar programs, members earn more points — four times as many — when they shop with a local merchant rather than a national chain. Points earned can be redeemed for gift certificates honored by businesses enrolled in the program or used to make a donation to a favorite charity. All these transactions can be conducted using the Buzz Points web interface or mobile app that enables consumers to track, manage and redeem their points.

Studies indicate that between 45 percent and 58 percent of the profits of local businesses circulate within the community, compared to just 13 percent to 33 percent of the profits of national firms. "We're only as successful as our community is successful," said Ron Magoon, executive vice president and chief operating officer. "The whole local angle is what is so appealing to us."

Businesses are charged $25 per month for "preferred" membership in the program. In return, their advertising will be featured on the bank's website, Facebook page and radio spots. Buzz Point carries targeted advertising of promotions and sales through mobile devices and e-mail accounts as well as on-line to the accounts of consumers enrolled in the program. Buzz Points provides its preferred members with reports that enable them to track the activity the program has generated for their business.

Jay Valanju, the chief executive officer of fisoc, the firm in Austin, Texas, that created Buzz Points, claims that businesses typically find their revenues increase between 20 percent and 30 percent after joining the program.

Heidi Beaulieu of the Blooming Iris, a gift store on Main Street in Tilton, described the program as "phenomenal." She said the bank has promoted her business on its Facebook page while she can advertise sales and promotions through her Buzz Points account. She explained that consumers enrolled in the program will receive an alert of any special offer at the Blooming Iris on their smart phones whenever they come within three miles of the store. Beaulieu said that she is displaying a bee in her window, along with slogans like "what's all the buzz about" and "buzz in here" to promote the program "It's just outstanding," she said.

Since the program began in July, 542 businesses within 25 miles of the bank's headquarters have enrolled in it.

"There are tons of reward programs," Magoon said, "but this is truly different. It provides value to all parties — the consumer, the business and the bank. It's a program where everyone wins." He noted that Buzz Points has deployed teams to enroll merchants in the program, sparing banks the burden and expense. "If you go to a coffee shop in Moultonborough that doesn't offer points, you can let Buzz Points know and they'll designate it a local business," he said. "Local is local regardless of where it is," he added, explaining that a customer of Franklin Savings Bank consumer enrolled in the program will get four points by trading with an independent business in Florida.

The bank receives an interchange fee on all debit card transactions. A study conducted by Discover Financial in 2013 found that banks exempt from caps on interchange fees — those like Franklin Savings Banks with less than $10 billion in assets — earn nearly $100 per card per year from debit transactions. Valanju told the American Banker magazine that one bank reported earnings of $5.35 per card per month.

Magoon said that Franklin Savings Bank has approximately 9,000 debit cardholders. He said that the source of fee income was welcome in an environment where low interest rates squeeze earnings on loans and the proliferation of technology has expanded services at little or no costs to banking customers.

Buzz Points was introduced in 2013 and aimed at community banks and credit unions that generally lack the resources to offer their rewards programs or to engage heavily in marketing by social media. Last year Discover Financial invested $19 million in Buzz Points to enroll more banks in its network.

"This is driving people to rethink shopping locally," Magoon said. "It's changing behavior."

 

CAPTION:

The busy bee in the window of the Blooming Iris on Main Street in Tilton invites customers not only to shop in the popular gift but also to join the buzz by enrolling in Buzz Points, the debit card-based rewards program offered by Franklin Savings Bank that encourages consumers to patronize the independent businesses in their communities and beyond. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

 

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Meredith Village Savings Bank James D. Sutherland Memorial Scholarship Recipients Announced

MEREDITH — Seven recent area high school graduates will be heading to college this fall with financial support from the Meredith Village Savings Bank James D. Sutherland Memorial Scholarship Fund. Each year, one graduating high school student from each community in which Meredith Village Saving Bank (MVSB) has an office is selected to receive a grant from the Sutherland Memorial Scholarship.

The recipients of this year's James D. Sutherland Memorial Scholarship are:
• Alexander Browne of Plymouth, son of Allison Estes-Browne, attending Columbia University in New York City
• Allyson Cleary of Alton, daughter of Robert and Christine Cleary, attending Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont
• Monika Pesa of Laconia, daughter of Milko and Ankica Pesa, attending Suffolk University in Boston
• Chelsea Stockdale of Moultonborough, daughter of Joyce Stockdale, attending Thomas College in Waterville, Maine
• Gage Wheeler of Meredith, son of Seth and Beatrice Wheeler, attending Drew University in Madison, New Jersey
• Matthew Young of Gilford, son of Richard and Lisa Young, attending Saint Lawrence University in Canton, NY
• Holly Zabkar of Sanbornville, daughter of Bob and Diana Zabkar, attending Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut

The Sutherland Memorial Scholarship was established in memory of James Sutherland, who served as CEO and President of Meredith Village Savings Bank between 1982 and 1996. Each year the scholarship is awarded to deserving high school seniors from Gilford High School, Inter-Lakes High School, Kingswood Academy, Laconia High School, Moultonborough Academy, Plymouth Regional High School and Prospect Mountain High School.

Students who are interested in applying for the 2016 scholarship are encouraged to speak with their guidance office or visit the Community Involvement page of Meredith Village Savings Bank's website at mvsb.com/about/community-involvement.

Meredith Village Savings Bank, founded in 1869, is an independent mutual savings bank with 11 offices serving individuals, families, businesses and municipalities in the Lakes Region and the Plymouth area.

 

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Titeflex Aerospace breaks ground on an acre of new manufacturing space in Laconia

LACONIA — About a decade after first contemplating the expansion of its manufacturing facility at the O'Shea Industrial Park, Titeflex Aerospace yesterday celebrated the start of a 47,000-square-foot building, which will enable the firm to consolidate its operations — now is two buildings— and create capacity for future growth.

Company executives and employees were joined by Governor Maggie Hassan, United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Bud Fitch, representing United States Senator Kelly Ayotte, and Mayor of Laconia Ed Engler to mark the occasion.

Titeflex Aerospace manufactures tubes and hoses that support the transfer of fuels, fluids, lubricants and gases in commercial and military aircraft as well as a variety of space applications. "Flexible hoses and rigid tubes," remarked general manager Graham Thomson, describing the firm's output.

The new addition will expand the overall capacity of the firm's operation by 30 percent while including several significant efficiencies. The chemical cleaning capacity of the plant will grow by 50 percent. A recycling system will reduce waste water by 95 percent, halving discharge to 15,000 gallons per day. High efficiency lighting and a steam heating system will trim energy costs. A 37,000 square foot parking area will be surfaced with porous pavement above a filtering media that will cleanse the water of contaminants before it reaches the groundwater and a network of under drains that will disperse rising water during heavy rainfall to prevent flooding.

"You guys are taking care of so many things," Hassan said, explaining that the project represented the expansion of manufacturing, the leading sector of the state's economy, and protected the natural environment, essential to the tourist industry, the second leading sector. She stressed that the investment reflected the success of efforts to foster a skilled workforce, remarking "we work hard, we work well, we work smart in New Hampshire."

Shaheen, who has sponsored successful legislation to promote energy efficieny, applauded Titeflex for incorporating so many elements of energy efficiency and environmental protection into the project. The measure, she said, will lower the operating costs of the company and safeguard the natural environment of the state.

Fitch read a letter from Ayotte echoing the themes expressed by Hassan and Shaheen, but highlighting the contributions of Titeflex to the "war fighters" of the United States. Like Shaheen, Ayotte expressed her support for the reauthorization the Export-Import Bank, which assists firms like Titeflex finance transactions with its customers overseas.

"I wish everybody in our city could be here today," Engler began. He noted that Titeflex manufactures precision products sold to some of the largest companies in the world, including General Electric, United Technologies, Rolls Royce, Boeing and Airbus. He said that the success of Titeflex is a reminder that "the United States can compete, New Hampshire can compete and Laconia can compete," which lends us "faith in ourselves".

Titleflex Aerospace is the successor to Lewis & Saunders, which has operated in Laconia since 1964. The firm is a subsidiary of the Smiths Group of London, which manufactures and applies a variety of advanced technologies to a wide range of practical applications, including medicine, communications, energy, security and aerospace.

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080415 Karmen Gifford to be guest speaker at Gilford Rotary Friday (108 w/1 col photo -- caption only)

GILFORD — Lake Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karmen Gifford will be the guest speaker at the August 7th meeting of the Gilford Rotary Club. Karmen will share the latest chamber news as well as details on the upcoming Pumpkin Festival in October.

Gilford Rotary is an organization of business and professional men and women who have accepted the ideal of service as a basis for attaining fulfillment in their business, personal, and professional lives, and by serving their community. Gilford Rotary meets Fridays at 7 a.m. at the Laconia Elks Lodge, 17 Sugarbush Lane, off Route 11A/Gilford Avenue in Gilford.

 

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Greater Meredith Program sets summer meeting for August 8

MEREDITH — The Greater Meredith Program will hold its summer annual meeting on Saturday, August 8th from 10-11 am at Moulton Farm, Rt. 25, Meredith.

Coffee and the famous "Cider Belly Doughnuts" will be served. Members of the GMP Board and committees will be on hand to discuss what the GMP has accomplished, continuing programs and future projects that are planned. Walking maps of the 2015-2016 Meredith Sculpture Walk will also be available. The public is invited to attend.

The Greater Meredith Program (GMP) is a nonprofit community economic development organization seeking to enhance economic vitality, historical and cultural heritage, and town-wide beautification. For more information about GMP or volunteer opportunities, call 603.279.9015, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website at www.greatermeredithprogram.com.

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