Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Area banks jumping on growth bandwagon

Mutual Savings expands in downtown Tonganoxie; First State Bank and Trust adding 2 more branches

March 21, 2001

Leaders of financial institutions that do business in Southern Leavenworth County believe the future is bright for the area.

"I think it's an exciting time for especially the southern part of the county," said David Hoppes, president and CEO of Mutual Savings Association.

Mutual, which is based in Leavenworth and operates a branch there, has branches in Tonganoxie, Bonner Springs, Oskaloosa and Eudora.

Like much of the southern portion of Leavenworth County, Mutual Savings is itself undergoing a construction project in Tonganoxie.

The firm is adding about 1,200 square feet to its 1,500-square-foot branch at Fourth and Green streets. An additional drive-through lane is part of the package, as well as an ATM and safety deposit boxes. The project should be complete in early June.

"It's just going to be a much better layout, providing more privacy and convenience for loan customers," Hoppes said.

As the Tonganoxie area grows, Hoppes said, he is hopeful that the city's downtown remains a strong anchor for the community.

"We're staying downtown," he said. "Our branches are downtown in the communities that we serve. I think Tonganoxie has made a commitment to its downtown. I hope that's deep and continuing because I think that's so important."

Hoppes recognizes that, sometimes, growth can be difficult.

"Just like growing up can be a little stressful for adolescents, I think the same can be said for some of these communities," he said.

Some area cities are grappling with challenges that population increases have presented in terms of providing sufficient water, sewer and roads.

"The growth is going to come, and I think our challenge is to ensure we create the kind of community and business climate that is going to serve our citizens well, not just for the next five or 10 years, but for years to come," Hoppes said.

Hoppes' counterpart at First State Bank and Trust of Tonganoxie said he's confident about Tonganoxie's future.

"We have excellent highways," said Bill New, chairman at First State Bank. "We have the kind of community that people want to live in, with good schools and lots of good churches, with a small-town atmosphere. And we have the necessities here that we need. We have new housing developments.

"I think the fact that people are coming and moving into our community is proof that it's a wonderful place to live."

First State Bank runs two sites in Tonganoxie one downtown; the other on U.S. Highway 24-40. In addition, the company operates branches in Basehor, Lawrence and Clearwater.

A second branch in Lawrence is under construction at Sixth Street and Monterey Way and due to come on line mid-year, and a Wichita branch should be up and running very soon, New said.

In addition, the bank is developing a commercial subdivision adjacent to its highway bank in Tonganoxie. A total of five lots are available for development.

"We're in an expansionary mode," he said. "We really have our table full right now. I'm sure we'll be looking at opportunities in the future as they present themselves. We'll concentrate in the localities where we're located."

One challenge for some area communities is to attract additional commercial development to help broaden the cities' tax bases.

"We've got to do everything that we can to ensure that those things do follow along as soon as possible," Hoppes said. "In terms of the tax structure, those things are very critical. You just can't have single-family subdivision after single-family subdivision without diversity in the tax base."

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