As Springfield’s economy pushes westward, banks are following and expanding their footprint along Wabash Avenue.
Bob Wingert, president of the Community Bankers Association of Illinois (CBAI), said the number of branches on the west side has increased over the past five to 10 years.
Mike Kelley, president of Community BancService Corporation, Inc., said there are very few regulatory hurdles banks have to jump over to open a branch. The main charter has to file a notice with the State of Illinois Division of Banking. The CBAI opposed branching. “It helped preserve community banks,” said Kelley.
Dating back to 1870 the Illinois Constitution forbade branching. In 1993 all branching restrictions were lifted in the State.
Each bank must decide for itself if branching is right for it and where to locate a branch. One tool that bankers use is Bancography.com, which provides a bank with the data it needs to make informed branching decisions.
Electronic banking is also changing the banking industry. Wingert said the function of a bank changes over time in terms of the products and services it offers and how it positions itself in the market.
“There is still enough business to justify the cost of opening a physical branch,” Wingert said.
Savvy Springfield bankers could sense trends in site selection. “My dad was past president of the CBAI,” said Tom Marantz, CEO and chairman of the board of Bank of Springfield. When the branching laws were eliminated, his father learned how to work within the new rules.
“He was the first person to put a branch on Wabash,” said Marantz. His father liked one location and he liked another so his father asked 10 friends and Marantz asked 10 friends which was the best location.