The Interview: Michael Livingston gives back

Bank of Glen Burnie CEO named top volunteer by Maryland Economic Development Association

  • Michael Livingston, president and CEO of the Bank of Glen Burnie, speaks at a West Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce event. He has been named the Maryland Economic Development Association Volunteer of the Year for 2011 and will receive the award officially at an event in June.
Michael Livingston, president and CEO of the Bank of Glen Burnie,… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kim…)
May 01, 2011|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest, Special to The Baltimore Sun

If there's a volunteer board working to promote economic development in northern Anne Arundel County, Michael Livingston probably serves on it, used to serve on it or has helped it out at one time or another.

Livingston, the president and CEO of the Bank of Glen Burnie, now serves as chairman of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. and as chairman of the Glen Burnie Town Center Advisory Committee.

Under Livingston's direction, the bank has prospered through difficult economic times. Glen Burnie Bancorp, the bank's holding company, recently reported a 63.5 percent increase in net income for 2010.

The AAEDC, meanwhile, has closed 72 loans totaling $8.4 million under Livingston's leadership, creating 425 jobs.

On June 6, Livingston is to accept the Maryland Economic Development Association Volunteer of the Year award for 2011.

Livingston sat down with The Baltimore Sun recently to talk about volunteering, community banks and more.

What brought you to the Bank of Glen Burnie?

I came in 1996 as chief planning officer. The Bank of Glen Burnie is a community bank that had been started in 1949 and had a great reputation. … I have a great team of about 120 full-time employees. I've been in banking for many, many years, but my first job was [as] the assistant general manager of Lexington Market in Baltimore, in 1975.

What's the state of community banks right now?

I think overall community banks have fared fairly well. Politics, and the press to some point, painted all the banks with one brush. But the community banks and, for the most part, most of the banks did not do subprime lending. So I think you would find that the majority of the banks have done very well.

How are you helping to redefine the image of a bank president?

Not sure it's necessarily "redefine," but again with the brush that has … painted … bankers, I think the bank presidents really are an asset to the community. Sometimes you get the appearance of bank presidents that have excessive salaries and are aloof. That is anything but the truth. I think you will find as you look around at your nonprofits and who is involved in the community, you will find not only a lot of the bank presidents but also a lot of the bank officers and employees.

Did the [Maryland Economic Development Association] award surprise you?

I was very humbled to be nominated. I was even more humbled to be selected.

I think I was nominated because I have been on the board for Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. for over 10 years and involved with some of the committees before then. That organization, among many things, is [designed] to spur economic growth in the county. It has a loan fund with a consortium of about 16 banks that provide a line of credit.

We also have made ARC [America's Recovery Capital Loan Program] loans to small businesses that go up to $30,000. We also provide for the designated revitalization areas to help with signage and business revitalization.

At AAEDC we formed the CIC, the Chesapeake Innovation Center, which was an incubator for businesses for homeland security. That was a very interesting concept where we wanted to attract startup businesses that provide technology and products needed by the government, Northrop Grumman, ARINC, NSA and others.

Why do you do it?

Number one, being a banker, I thought it was so important to be involved in the community and be a part of the community. Number two, I just really enjoy getting involved. I have fun doing this.

What do you look for when you are approving small-business loans such as the CIC or AAEDC loans? Is it the same criteria you look for at the Bank of Glen Burnie?

It's like any loan, you're looking for the five "Cs" of credit [capacity, character, collateral, conditions and capital].

Character has always been one of the things you really look at. How does someone repay their loan and how do they handle their business? I think in the early 2000s, a lot of emphasis was put on the value of collateral, and the banking and lending industry strayed from the capacity, which is cash flow. We never did at the Bank of Glen Burnie.

I think that's one of the things that helped us maintain profitability during this recession. But I think now … capacity is more important than collateral. It is the cash that repays loans from earnings or from salary. Whether the loan is for a consumer or business, you still need to understand where the cash is coming from to repay the loan.

What is unique about Anne Arundel County?

Anne Arundel County has NSA, Fort Meade; it has the state capital. It has by that nature a job market. It also has Baltimore-Washington Intermational Thurgood Marshall Airport, and what a great hub that is.

If you had a chance to give an acceptance speech, what would you say?

A lot of us sit back and talk about what is wrong with our state of affairs, whether it's the county, state or federal government, but never get involved. … So I implore people: If you think things are not right and you'd like to see things done differently, get involved. If it's not on the business side, there are … a lot of organizations that really need help. So instead of sitting back and saying what's wrong with this world, step into the arena and get involved.

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