Periodically, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City surveys District bankers for their views on a variety of matters. In February 2001, we solicited banker opinion on a number of topics pertaining to deposit and loan competition, management and staffing challenges, Internet banking activities, funding options, operational issues, the effects of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and near-term prospects. ; This essay briefly discusses the Tenth District’s geography, economics, and demographics and thereby provides context for the survey responses we received. It introduces subsequent articles that describe in more detail responses to survey topics. It also sets out the survey methodology and describes the applicability of survey results to the entire population of Tenth District banks. Broadly speaking, survey results can be generalized for all Tenth District banks. ; We also review what bankers told us about their environment, competition, and future challenges. The representative bank in the District is family owned and locally controlled. The economic and competitive environment that District banks face depends, in part, on growth prospects and diversification opportunities of the bank's communities. The most intense loan and deposits competitors are other community banks. Problems that most challenge survey respondents involve basic aspects of successfully managing a bank: funding, income sources, and meeting competition. Despite identifying many problems, all but a few bankers expect their banks will remain in business and succeed.