Chesapeake Bank in Kilmarnock, Va., has endeared itself to its community, and its employees, by rewarding those who support area businesses.

The $687 million-asset bank has two initiatives to support this favorite cause. One encourages bank employees to eat and shop locally on a regular basis and publicize their purchases via a Twitter hashtag, #BuckStaysHere. The other is a promotion in which employees wearing their "Buck Stays Here" T-shirts get together to patronize a local business as a group on the third Thursday of the month and post pictures to their social media accounts.

Employees who participate in either effort are entered into a monthly drawing for a gift card redeemable at — where else? — a locally owned and operated business.

"There are so many employees that have adopted the program and think about shopping locally first before going online or to a big box store," said Jeffrey Szyperski, the chairman, president and chief executive of the bank, which has been on the Best Banks to Work For list several years running.

Erin Hamlin, a business development officer at Chesapeake, said she enjoys supporting the participating businesses, which now number more than 300. She wants to do her part to improve the financial stability of the community.

The idea to push a shop local theme came from a 2012 brainstorming session with members of Chesapeake's marketing department. It grew from there, as they enlisted the help of branch managers and other employees to engage the business community and local chambers of commerce.

Now in its fourth year, the effort has evolved to include the bank branches creating a display where one local business each month can showcase their wares.

Szyperski said the focus makes a lot of sense for a community bank like Chesapeake. "We know that where entrepreneurs and small businesses thrive, communities prosper."

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