Banks building on robust business
Bill New, chairman of First State Bank and Trust, was raised north of Tonganoxie.
During the years, he's seen many changes in southern Leavenworth County. And he's anticipating more.
"There's actually more building going on in southern Leavenworth County than northern Leavenworth County. That's exciting. It's been a long time coming," said New, whose bank has offices in Tonganoxie, Lawrence, Basehor and Clearwater.
Like other financial institutions in southern Leavenworth County, New's bank sees many home mortgages. That, along with increased commercial outlets, means the area banking business is strong.
"I don't think there's any question about it," New said. "I think it's a good market for financial institutions to be in. Just like there's a limit to the number of convenience stores and fast-food restaurants, there is a limit to the number of financial institutions, too."
At Tonganoxie's Community National Bank, branch president Bill Altman echoes New's sentiments.
"Tonganoxie is well-served banking-wise," said Altman, who's worked at Community National since 1996. "We have three very good financial institutions here in town: First State, Mutual Savings and Community National. Although the area is growing, the area is well-banked."
Like New, Altman is in a unique position to observe growth in the area.
"I see the primary growth over the next few years on the residential side," he said. "I see commercial maybe five years down the road."
Both First State and Community National have new locations on U.S. Highway 24-40. Community National also owns a tract of vacant land along U.S. Highway 24-40.
"What we're looking for is a commercial venture that won't compete with our downtown merchants," Altman said. "I'm bullish on this Main Street channeling business downtown. I'm very bullish on downtown. I think it's important."
David Hoppes, president of Mutual Savings Assn., said his company has a strong commitment to the downtowns of all communities it serves: Tonganoxie, Eudora, Oskaloosa, Bonner Springs, Leavenworth and Lansing.
"We think those downtowns are awfully important," Hoppes said.
Hoppes, who's worked at Mutual since 1991, also has kept a careful eye on growth in the southern Leavenworth County corridor.
"I think that will continue and accelerate as we get closer to the NASCAR track getting up and running, and the associated development," Hoppes said.
"It's convenient. Land and housing prices are reasonable, compared to Johnson County. We do have some infrastructure and other challenges as this growth continues."
Like his competitors, Hoppes believes the area is well-served by banks.
"There seems to be plenty of good competition," he said.
"There's lots of good competitors, particularly in Leaven-worth County. We see that as a positive. In Basehor and Tonganoxie, our competitors are worthy competitors, who are doing a good job with community interest in mind."