The pending sale of Community Bank of Oak Park-River Forest is far from a surprise. Consolidation in the banking industry has been underway for decades and is driven by an array of forces: economic, political and, in the sale of our very own 20-year-old community bank start-up, personal.  

The founders of Community Bank created something wonderful and powerful in Oak Park and River Forest. A bank vested in the villages, backed by local investors, staffed with familiar faces, and welcoming to personal, commercial and nonprofit entities looking for support and service. 

But a moment comes to cash out that investment and the options are limited, mainly to a much larger financial institution. In this case, that entity is Byline Bank. Good words are shared about future service but the plain truth is that, come spring when this deal likely closes, a vital institution with profound local ties will leave the scene.

As their own slogan says, “There’s only one Community Bank.”

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