While it seems to be common these days to celebrate Eastern Shore entrepreneurship, as it should be, it is sometimes hard to remember that this entrepreneurial spirit has been in Chestertown for some time. While it can be seen currently with new retail stores, manufacturing, or even courageously starting a local brewery, it is important to remember these younger people do walk in the footsteps of some very special folks who came before them.
And one story like that from the past is the remarkable founding of the Chesapeake Bank and Trust thirty years ago.
The young man at the time was a Washington College graduate named Michael Macielag who had been mentored by Roger Simpkins, the highly respected president of the Chestertown Bank for seven years but then found himself unemployed in the spring of 1986 when that Bank was to be sold off in a merger.
Facing very few prospects which would allow him to continue to live on the Shore, Mike assumed he would need to move to the Western Shore for job opportunities, but then stumbled on the news that Maryland National Bank would be selling off its Chestertown branch. Suddenly, the opportunity of a lifetime miraculously presented itself to start a new bank, and Mike made his move.
In less than a few months time, Macielag was able to attract close to 20 investors willing to put up $100,000 each or more to found the Chesapeake Bank and Trust. And the motive was a simple one from the start; they all wanted a bank to be focused on local interests and local needs without the influence and the interference of a large and distant parent corporation.
That was 30 years ago. Since then Chesapeake Bank and Trust has been faithful to the original investors mission statement and continues to be a critical resource for starting new businesses, helping with higher education loans, or allowing young couples to purchase their first home.
The Chestertown Spy spent a few moments last week talking to Michael about the founding of the bank, its original mission, and how he sees the Chesapeake Bank and Trust playing a critical role in a 21st century Kent County.