The chatter about community banking these days—in the press, in political circles and even among bankers themselves—is that it is an industry in peril. Hamstrung by problem loans and too small to access the capital markets, countless community banks that not long ago had growth ambitions are shrinking their balance sheets in order to preserve capital.

While it's true many small banks are struggling to remain relevant, others are thriving, like First Virginia Community Bank. The $275 million-asset bank in McLean earned a record $2 million last year and grew its loan portfolio by nearly 30 percent—organically—at a time when loan demand is supposedly weak. Founder and CEO David Pijor says much of the growth has come at the expense of larger rivals that have become increasingly inflexible.

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