First in the Community

2017 First in the Community Impact Report

At First National Bank, it is our vision that all of the communities we serve will be strong and successful.  That’s why we partner with community leaders and direct our investments to eight interconnected assets of a successful community – Strong Local Economies, Educated Workforce, Stable Housing, Vibrant Neighborhoods, Community Cohesion, Access to Culture, Good Health and Sustained Environment.  By doing so, we can be assured we’re helping where need is greatest and results are best realized.

Today we published our 2017 First in the Community Impact Report which showcases our community reinvestments throughout our seven-state footprint and the outcomes that we helped our community partners achieve.  It shares both individual achievement and collective impact, as well as the progress toward meeting our 2020 goals and objectives. Serving the community is a privilege for which we remain grateful for, and our commitment will remain strong in 2018 and beyond.

Click here to view the full report.

Introducing the 2017 Community First Awards!

For 160 years, First National Bank has been actively supporting the communities we serve so that they remain strong and continue to grow.  That’s why we are passionate about partnering with community organizations who are working to creative positive impacts where need is the greatest and results are best realized. Today, we are pleased to announce that we are kicking off the Community First Awards, a campaign that recognizes and celebrates nonprofit organizations who are contributing to the success of our communities.  If you know a local nonprofit organization that has made significant contributions to the growth and strength of our community, nominate them today!

Nominations for the 2017 Community First Awards are open to the public from July 7 through July 28.  Nominations will be evaluated based on the nonprofit’s impact on community needs and positive presence in the community. The highest scoring nominations will then be presented for a public vote starting on August 28. There will be one winner and runner-up selected from each of the following areas:  Nebraska/South Dakota, Kansas, Illinois and Colorado. The winners will be announced in mid-September when the winning nonprofits in each area will receive a $10,000 cash donation and the runner-up a $2,500 donation.  Click here for complete rules and to nominate a nonprofit organization.

 

 

 

The Picasso of Chocolates: Christopher Elbow Chocolates Grows to Keep up With Demand

Chris Elbow sells his artisan chocolates to more than 30 stores across the United States. He has a retail store in San Francisco and hopes to soon open another on the East Coast. But home is where his heart is, and that’s at his flagship Christopher Elbow Chocolates store in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City is where Elbow grew up, and it’s where he honed his gourmet chocolate craft, which has earned glowing praise from the Food Network, O – The Oprah Magazine and foremost food industry publication Food & Wine.

More than just a place to work

Elbow doesn’t just live and run his business in Kansas City. He and his business have become a part of the community by participating in benefits throughout the year and by donating his sweet delights to numerous fund raisers in the Kansas City area.

“Kansas City is the perfect size, where it can be very personable,” Elbow said. “You have the opportunity, even being a small company, to make an impact in the community. There’s a lot of pride from the citizens here that support local products.”

A recipe for growth

Elbow credits First National Bank with helping his business grow in the Kansas City community. After lending his pastry-making skills to restaurants in Kansas City and Las Vegas – where he helped Emeril Lagasse open Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian – Elbow fell in love with the art of desserts, specifically chocolates.

His first operation was housed in a 400-square-foot space above a Kansas City restaurant that was kind enough to lend him the room. He had one employee: himself. From there, he opened a retail area that amounted to a kiosk at a local store. Next was his flagship location in Kansas City in 2007. San Francisco came in 2008. And he’s now up to 32 employees company-wide.

Throughout each growth spurt for Christopher Elbow Chocolates, First National Bank has been there.

“They have been instrumental in wanting to become a strategic partner in helping us grow our business with securing loans for equipment,” Elbow said. “We’re in the process of purchasing a new building that we can move into and grow and expand our production.”

“The great thing about First National Bank is that they have really expressed that this is a long-term partnership, and they want to do everything they can to help us succeed and grow our business. They have a lot more emotion involved in it rather than just, ‘Here’s a loan, pay it back.’ They really invested in the business, in the company, and wanting to see it succeed.”

The sweet taste of success

From the company’s thriving online business and retail stores to its wholesale business and its ice cream offshoot (Christopher Elbow Chocolates was chosen by Häagen-Dazs to create a signature flavor), each endeavor has been a winner.

The only problem now is keeping up with demand.

“The number one challenge for us is production, trying to meet demand” Elbow said. “A lot of the things we do, we can’t mechanize. So, it’s tough … we grow and expand and learn how to be more efficient every year, but keeping up with demand is our biggest challenge, and doing it in a way where you don’t sacrifice quality is of vital importance to us.”

Quality is the first ingredient

“Chocolate is a lot like coffee and wine. There are different varietals and better varietals, and they can taste different from where they are grown. And they can taste different from year to year, much like a vintage of wine,” said Elbow.

Christopher Elbow Chocolates imports about 30 tons of raw chocolate from France each year.

“Getting the best varieties and the best flavored chocolate is paramount to us. They have a much richer and deeper complex chocolate flavor than you get from a commodity grade, a grocery-store-candy-bar style of chocolate.”

The chocolate is custom-made for Christopher Elbow, which then melts it down to craft their signature combinations.

“The high quality of the chocolate doesn’t stop there,” Elbow said. “That carries into the other ingredients we use. For example, with a fresh mint chocolate we don’t use a mint extract or flavoring. We use fresh mint leaves and infuse that flavor in. You have to have great ingredients to create a great chocolate.”

Works of art

The end result after years of perfecting his craft is an assortment of chocolates that are not only euphoric to eat, but also magnificent pieces of visual – albeit edible – art.

“One of the most common reactions I get is that the chocolates are almost too beautiful to eat. My response is, ‘You said almost.’”

First in the Community 2016 Impact Report

At First National Bank, it is our vision that all of the communities we serve will be strong and successful.  That’s why we partner with community leaders and direct our investments to proven efforts in eight interconnected elements of a successful community – Strong Local Economies, Educated Workforce, Stable Housing, Vibrant Neighborhoods, Community Cohesion, Access to Culture, Good Health and Sustained Environment.  By doing so, we can be assured we’re helping where need is greatest and results are best realized.

Today, we published our First in the Community 2016 Impact Report  which summarizes our community giving and the results our dedicated community organizations, passionate employees and loyal customers were able to realize within each of the community elements. It shares both individual achievement and collective impact, as well as the progress toward meeting our 2020 goals and objectives. Serving the community is a privilege that First National Bank is grateful for and we look forward to building upon our partnerships to maintain the success of our communities in 2017 and beyond.

To view the full report, click here.

 

First in the Community


At First National Bank we operate under the vision of successful communities in all the places we operate. We truly believe in always doing the doing the right thing and giving back to those in need. These values are part of our Operating Philosophy and embedded in our corporate DNA. As a result, our success as a company is measured by the success of each of our stakeholders – our customers, communities, business partners, employees and the environment. Read More