By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
Officials with Edwardsville Bank are eyeing an early 2020 opening for a facility that they say will fill a void in local banking.
Remodeling is underway on the location at 209 E. Schwarz St., between East Kansas and South Buchanan streets, the former location of a U.S. Bank branch.
Edwardsville Bank, a division of Saint Louis Bank, should open in February, President and Chief Executive Officer Travis Liebig said.
A ceremonial groundbreaking took place Oct. 10 during a rainy-day event attended by dozens of area businesspeople and community leaders.
“It will look quite a bit different when it’s all said and done. We’re going to add an addition to the building, give it a complete facelift, and a full buildout on the inside, with new office furniture and equipment,” Liebig said.
The privately owned Saint Louis Bank is based in Town and Country, Mo., a St. Louis suburb.
Plocher Construction Co., of Highland, is general contractor for the expansion in Edwardsville as well as an expansion planned at the Saint Louis Bank commercial banking location at 2000 South Hanley Road in St. Louis.
Notable investors include Chris Byron, the lead director of the bank and the managing partner at Byron, Carlson, Petri & Kalb Law Firm in Edwardsville, and board chairman Fred Barton. Both Byron and Barton are well-known Edwardsville natives.
The bank has officially hired Justin Huneke as its Edwardsville market president. Huneke was market president for BOS (Bank of Springfield) in Edwardsville/Glen Carbon. Prior to that he spent over 10 years with Bank of Edwardsville.
Liebig, who grew up in Quincy, moved to this area to go to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he got an undergraduate degree in 2002 and, later, an MBA.
“I have been in banking since I graduated SIU. I did a co-op my senior year with Regions Bank and worked for them the next 10 years.” He later worked for People’s Bank and most recently was president of Simmons Bank before the purchase of Saint Louis Bank in August 2018 by Liebig and a group of what he calls his longtime clients and “centers of influence.”
“There was an opportunity to make the acquisition. I went to people I trusted, or did banking with, and told them what I was thinking about doing and had an unbelievable amount of support. All of them believed in the community bank model,” he said.
A planned expansion of Saint Louis Bank to Metro East had been in the works, but it was put on an advanced timetable when investors witnessed changes in the local banking scene.
“We saw an opportunity to come to Edwardsville. When we found out Busey Bank was acquiring Bank of Edwardsville, we sped up some of those plans for the marketplace,” he said. “We thought that maybe sometime in the next two years would be the right time but with the announcement, we found a way to change some strategic initiatives to get here as fast as possible.”
Saint Louis Bank was founded in 2005 and built its business around commercial and small-business banking.
“When we bought the bank, we saw an opportunity to continue to leverage that (strategy) but also expand the geographic locations of the bank to be more visible and to support our growth plan,” Liebig said.
The Edwardsville Bank’s primary focus will be small, and middle-size businesses, with a focus on retail, consumer lending, consumer banking and some mortgage lending.
Liebig, whose home base is in St. Louis, figures to be in Edwardsville about half of his time. The bank is also opening another location, a small-business office in Phoenix, but primarily wants to focus on St. Louis and Metro East.
“A lot of our priorities are on this side of the river,” he said, adding that around eight associates will be working from Edwardsville.
The site was originally built around 1980 by Edwardsville National Bank, a bank that was eventually purchased by Mark Twain Banks, which was later purchased by FirstStar and which was purchased by U.S. Bank.
“This will be the community bank for Edwardsville,” Byron said.
Byron said his father was a director at Edwardsville National Bank and his grandfather was one of the original investors, and a director back in the 1920s and ’30s.
“We wanted to be in Edwardsville anyway, but after the evaporation of a community bank in this marketplace, these guys were a catalyst in getting us here quicker,” Liebig said. “Things continue to change in banking, but one thing that is constant is the relationship with the banker and the need to have that trusted advisor there as you’re thinking about opportunities, growing and going through challenges.”
Editor’s note: This story ran in our November print issue. For the entire edition, click on the Current Edition link at ibjonline.com