Open for Business—Winter Park National Bank directors Stanley Pietkiewicz, James Ferrell, Michael Crisante, Dell Avery join Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika following the presentation of the bank's national charter.
After an eight-year drought “de novo activity appears to be thawing as the economy warms,” Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika said at a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony for Winter Park National Bank, the first new national bank charter since 2009.
At a time when megabanks are shuttering their branches in search of greener pastures, community banks are fortifying their roots.
One year after Bank of America closed their Fairview, Tenn. branch, Apex Bank opened their doors to Fairview and hosted their grand opening at a community fall festival.
Camden, Tenn.-based Apex Bank also hired several of BofA’s former employees to demonstrate their community investment, including Heather Roberson, who told The Tennessean newspaper, “I know we all feel blessed to be working for such a family- and community-oriented business.”
According to the FDIC, 16.3 million people in roughly one in three U.S. counties would have limited or no physical access to mainstream banking services without the presence of community banks. These highly capitalized entities fund nearly 50 percent of the nation’s small-business loans and more than 80 percent of local farms. And because of their local ties, the loans they make are redistributed back into their depositors’ neighborhoods, promoting local growth and ensuring their communities’ financial well-being.
A recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal emphasizing the role community banks play in funding rural America elicited the following response from one small-business owner:
“I was approved for a small business loan from a local bank in Michigan when I started a business in 1995. The bank believed in lending money to locals to improve the community. I was shocked to be approved, but went on to run a successful business in Michigan for more than 10 years. I employed up to 36 people at one point and 20+ at most times. If not for this local, small bank, I could not have even begun. Though the financial risk must be the determining factor for a bank, knowing the people you are working with and trusting their motive and character has led to many entrepreneurs starting businesses that employ more people across the US than large corporations do.”—Gina Eggers
Sentiments like these demonstrate why news of Winter Park National Bank’s opening merits celebration and has sparked optimism that more de novo formations might be on the horizon. Since Jan. 1, 2016 the FDIC has approved eight de novo bank applications and several are pending. Winter Park National Bank President and CEO David Dotherow told Independent Banker earlier this year that he’s received several calls from bankers seeking advice on starting a bank from scratch.
In fact, Dotherow says he expects “a lot of interest in the next few years, because there is a void of community banks.”
To find your local community bank, visit ICBA’s Community Bank Locator at www.banklocally.org.