Community National Bank of Chanute plans to open an Augusta branch

07/24/2014 7:20 AM

08/08/2014 4:29 PM

Officials from a Chanute-based bank that last year opened a full-service branch in Newton now plan to open an Augusta branch next year.

“Hopefully in the first half of 2015,” said Eric Grooms, Community National Bank & Trust executive vice president. “It will be the 23rd banking center for Community National.”

Grooms, who lives in Augusta and has been working out of the $842 million-asset bank’s Winfield office for the past two years, will oversee the new branch.

“Basically we think there is a good opportunity in the marketplace,” he said, noting that in the past few years Bank of America closed its branch there and Emprise consolidated its offices in Augusta.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Emprise had 51 percent of the $133 million in deposits in Augusta as of the end of June 2013, the most recent report available.

Emprise’s top executive said in a statement e-mailed to The Eagle that Community National is a familiar competitor.

“They are already in five other markets that Emprise serves: El Dorado, Iola, Eureka, Humboldt and Chanute,” Emprise CEO Tom Page said. “Interestingly, this will be the sixth market we share with them, and once they open their doors in Augusta they will be the sixth bank to operate in that community.”

The other banks that operate branches in Augusta, in order of most to fewest deposits, are: Rose Hill Bank, Bank of the West, Intrust Bank and Verus Bank.

Grooms said Community National is in the process of selecting a location for its Augusta branch. “We’re still studying our options,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have a clearer vision on that by the end of year.”

The bank recently placed a sign on Seventh Avenue in Augusta, which is U.S. Highway 54, announcing it is coming to the city.

“We’ve built a lot of momentum thus far as we move toward a physical presence in Augusta,” said Grooms, who started his banking career at the former Augusta-based Prairie State Bank.

The bank has some deposit customers who live in Augusta and bank at Community National’s El Dorado branch, and it has some loan business in Augusta, too, he added.

The Augusta branch will be Community National’s fourth branch in the metropolitan area.

Besides El Dorado and Newton, it also has a branch in Benton.

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