Here is the story reported by Cynthia Yeldell with the Nashville Business Journal:
” FirstBank bank wants to open branches in Williamson, Davidson, Sumner and Wilson counties
FirstBank is stepping into the consumer banking arena in Middle Tennessee with plans to open up to 12 branches within the next five years.
The Lexington, Tenn.-based bank with nearly $2 billion in assets has two area offices – downtown Nashville and Cool Springs – which focus on commercial lending.
With the expansion, Britin Boatright, metropolitan bank president for FirstBank, says the company intends to double its employees in Middle Tennessee to 100, continue to expand its commercial lending and attract retail banking customers.
“That was the missing ingredient for us … the locations to have local bankers in the community,” Boatright says.
Boatright was recently appointed to head up the bank’s growth in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis.
Buzz Carter has been promoted to oversee commercial lending and Joe Stocker has been named to the new position of area president for Nashville.
Stocker will oversee Middle Tennessee’s expansion plans.
FirstBank plans to open branches in Williamson, Davidson, Sumner and Wilson counties, and has signed letters of intent for two properties in Williamson County.
The first new branch should open in 2008. Each branch requires an investment ranging from $2 to $4 million.
Nashville has seen a flurry of banking activity in recent months.
Despite trouble from subprime loans that have hurt banks in other markets, local bankers say Nashville is still a desirable location.
Bank deposits in the Nashville area grew by more than $2 billion within the last year, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Nashville area banks had $30.6 billion in deposits at the end of June, up from $28.5 billion last year.
Over the next three and a half years, First Tennessee will invest more than $100 million to build 30 offices in the state, 20 in Middle Tennessee.
Fifth Third Bank plans to open branches next month in Bellevue and on Metrocenter Boulevard and will open at least 12 branches in the Nashville area in 2008.
“We continue to look for good real estate sites because Nashville is growing and we want to grow with it,” says Connie White, marketing director for Fifth Third.
FirstBank officials believe they have a competitive advantage because the bank is owned by a single shareholder, bank chairman Jim Ayers.
“When we decide to focus on an area we only have to convince one person,” Carter says. “We can take a long-term view. We are not concerned about what we have to do to please shareholders for the next quarter.”
FirstBank has started marketing directly to consumers with billboards and other advertising and will increase sponsorships to reach consumer groups.
Bank officials believe they have an opportunity to gain customers who are new to the market and those who are dissatisfied with their current bank because of mergers or other issues.
“We will try to leverage our existing clients to get new customer accounts,” Stocker says. “We want to build a personal relationship with our customers.”
FirstBank has 44 locations in Tennessee, most in small communities.
The bank acquired seven former AmSouth branches last year.
Six were in new markets for the bank – Crossville, Dayton, Fayetteville, Shelbyville, Smithville and Woodbury. The seventh branch added an office in Paris.”