By Bill Yarbrough, Community Relations/Communications Coordinator TheBANK of Edwardsville

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Directors and staff from TheBANK of Edwardsville cut the ribbon during the grand opening celebration of the bank’s new Fairmont City Center on Thursday, Nov. 19. Pictured from left: Mark Shashek, chairman of THE BANC ED CORP.; Chuck Unger, TheBANK of Edwardsville board of directors; Bill Alexander, executive vice president and director with TheBANK and THE BANC ED CORP. boards; Robert Plummer, chairman of TheBANK of Edwardsville board of directors; Robert Schwartz, senior vice president of retail banking; Kevin Powers, president and CEO; Sandy Smith, business development/lender; Elena Teppen, assistant manager Fairmont City Center; Minerva Rodriquez, relief teller; Eric Herrera, universal banker Fairmont City Center; Jorge Medina, teller Fairmont City Center; and Victor Ortiz-Marquez, teller Fairmont City Center.

FAIRMONT CITY, IL., NOVEMBER 19, 2015 – TheBANK of Edwardsville introduced the first full service, fully bilingual banking center in the St. Louis metro area on Thursday, Nov. 19, with the grand opening ceremony of its Fairmont City Center, located inside the Fairmont City Library at 2870 N. 44th Street.

“Today is an exciting day for everyone at TheBANK of Edwardsville,” said Rob Schwartz, Senior Vice President of Retail Banking at TheBANK of Edwardsville. “This is a culmination of a great deal of hard work by a core group of people at our bank, and also the beginning of a remarkable partnership with the Fairmont City Library.”

thebank1TheBANK of Edwardsville began developing a plan to reach the growing Hispanic population – a market historically underserved by the financial industry – in the St. Louis metro area more than two years ago. After more than a year of planning and developing products and services specifically catering to the needs of the Hispanic population, and hiring a full team of bilingual bankers fluent in Spanish and English, TheBANK and the Mississippi Valley District Library Board, which oversees the Fairmont City Library, worked together to come to an agreement to locate the new banking center in the library, which has developed into the hub of activity for the Fairmont City community.

“As we worked with the library board to work out an arrangement that would benefit all parties involved, it became clear that the Fairmont City Library plays a huge role in making this community a great place to live, to raise children and to do business,” Schwartz said. “With TheBANK’s focus on financial education, offering products that encourage home ownership and financial independence, and with our history of community involvement, this is truly a perfect fit for us.”

Guest speaker Karlos Ramirez, Executive Director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis, said TheBANK of Edwardsville’s willingness to cater to the fast-growing Hispanic population puts it at the forefront in the financial community.

“I’ve always told the banking members of our chamber that whichever bank figures out how to work with the Hispanic population, which is the most untapped population, will win the game,” Ramirez said. “In reality, the Hispanic population is the fastest growing population in the St. Louis area. So when you become a bank that has people that look like me and that can speak like me, it makes it a lot easier and more comfortable to go and bank there, particularly in such a safe community place like this library.”

The staff of TheBANK of Edwardsville’s new Fairmont City Center are in front, from left: Elena Tepen, assistant manager; Minerva Rodriguez, relief teller, and Eric Herrera, universal banker. In back, from left, are tellers Jorge Medina and Victor Ortiz-Marquez.

The staff of TheBANK of Edwardsville’s new Fairmont City Center are in front, from left: Elena Tepen, assistant manager; Minerva Rodriguez, relief teller, and Eric Herrera, universal banker. In back, from left, are tellers Jorge Medina and Victor Ortiz-Marquez.

Guest speaker Vin Ko, Program Manager of the St. Louis Mosaic Project, a regional initiative which has the goal of making the St. Louis metro area the fastest growing region in terms of immigration by the year 2020, said TheBANK opening a center in a largely Hispanic community will help his organization reach that goal.

“This is all about attracting people and retaining people. And it’s about building welcoming communities in our area,” Ko said. “A commitment like TheBANK of Edwardsville has made in the Fairmont City community will change lives.  Most people don’t understand the difficulties for a foreign born person when it comes to banking. It can be terrifying to even open a savings account for many of these people because of the language barrier. So, TheBANK of Edwardsville taking the risk of investing in these people’s success and proudly offering the products and services that will most help them in their unique situation is truly remarkable.”

TheBANK’s decision to develop products and services and open a banking center that can meet the needs of the Hispanic population had the full backing of its board of directors from the beginning of the project more than two years ago.

“Our bank is, and has always been, community involved,” said Robert Plummer, Chairman of TheBANK of Edwardsville’s Board of Directors. “Everyone in the bank, from the directors to the officers to the staff, has really been looking forward to this.  We wanted to do this and we are going to work hard and bring every resource we have to make this a success. It’s part of who we are as a bank.  We have such a dedicated staff that works every day to do what is right for the customer, and we truly appreciate being invited into Fairmont City to offer our services to the fine people of this great community.”

TheBANK’s Fairmont City Center is a full service banking center which offers retail services such as checking and savings accounts, mortgage loan products, commercial loan products and investment services. The hours of operation for its lobby are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. To contact the Fairmont City Center, call 618-857-5400 or fax 618-655-5670.

In addition to Thursday’s grand opening ceremony, TheBANK of Edwardsville has a “Community Fiesta” scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Fairmont City Center for local residents to come out and enjoy free food and drinks as well and fun activities.