A Florida community bank is trying to parlay kids' love for the Internet into a business opportunity.

Republic Bank, St. Petersburg, has introduced Cool Bank, a new Web site that uses games to teach children about banking. The site has games to entertain and educate kids from kindergarten through high school.

Kindergartners can follow Links, the Cool Bank cyberdog, on a tour of his backyard. For example, clicking on a hole where Links hides bones leads to an explanation of savings accounts. There's also Cookie, Links' canine friend who explains checking accounts.

"First you put your money in the bank. Then you write a check to take it out and buy toys, video games, or pizza," Cookie explains.

Older children can plan their budgets so they can buy a car after high school graduation.

If kids like the on-line service, their parents might move their accounts to $2.3 billion-asset Republic, said vice president Stan R. Blakey. "It's a way to form a relationship not just with students, but parents and educators as well," he said.

Republic branch managers are making presentations to parent groups and schools to encourage use of the site. Mr. Blakey said that most of Cool Bank's development was done in-house, so the costs were "minimal."

Cool Bank's Web address is http://www.coolbank.com.

-Louis Whiteman


MINNEAPOLIS-Minnesota banker and Twins owner Carl Pohlad used his appearance at the American Bankers Association's agricultural bankers conference here last week to make a pitch for a new baseball stadium.

Mr. Pohlad, who is president of Minneapolis-based Marquette Bankshares, was joined at the podium by Hall-of-Famer Harmon "Killer" Killebrew, hitting great Kirby Puckett, and Twins president Jerry Bell to address the 750 bankers.

Mr. Bell said the Metrodome leaves the Twins and the local economy at a disadvantage compared with teams and cities with new ballparks. "How would you like to run a bank without a computer, especially if the bank across the street has computers?" he asked. "You can do it, but it's really tough to compete."

The Twins' request is not getting much sympathy from the state's governor-elect. Jesse "The Body" Ventura has said he will not pledge taxpayer dollars to replace a stadium that is only 16 years old.


How's this for sportsmanship?

After trying to derail the merger plans of two nearby banks, CNY Financial Corp. of upstate Cortland, N.Y., near Syracuse, is congratulating them.

Late last month CNY made back-to-back bids for Oneida (N.Y.) Valley Bancshares and Cortland First Financial Corp., offering a combined $105 million. Their boards rebuffed the last-minute entry.

This week the targets' shareholders overwhelmingly approved a $47 million merger of equals. The deal is expected to close by yearend; the combined company would be called Alliance Financial Corp.

CNY sent its congratulations in a news release. It also said it owns a small amount of stock in both companies and therefore plans to keep a close eye on the merger.

"CNY would be pleased if Alliance produces long-term shareholder value for its shareholders in excess of that offered in the proposals submitted by our company," said Steven A. Covert, chief financial officer. "We wish them well."

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