ALBANY, N.Y. - New York State wants consumers to support their local bankers.

To honor "the strength of community banks and their contributions to the Empire State's economic growth," Gov. George E. Pataki declared March 20-26 the fifth annual Community Banking Week.

The Independent Bankers Association of New York State is holding seven press conferences statewide with bankers and business customers, touting community banks' role in small business lending, home mortgages, and consumer loans.

The governor noted in a statement that the nearly 100 New York community banks have more than 10,000 employees, serve 2.5 million account holders, and possess $24 billion of assets.

Mr. Pataki called small banks "an important part of the financial services network that serve a diverse and growing population."

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