News Column

With Farmers and Merchants, Sylvania is hub of community banks

July 20, 2014

By Natalie Trusso Cafarello, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio



July 20--Sylvania has become a hub of interest by community banks seeking a slice of the local financial pie.

Farmers and Merchants State Bank, based in Archbold, is to open its first Sylvania branch in early August at 5810 Monroe St., just across the street from the Fifth Third Bank. It marks the Archbold bank's 22nd branch.??

The location is near other financial institutions, including a new GenoaBank and Ohio regional banks Huntington and KeyBank.

"We are a community bank," said Marty Filogamo, marketing director for Farmers and Merchants. "We do a nice job serving the community that we are in with a community focus."

The Sylvania branch will benefit from the heavy Monroe Street traffic, he said. Farmers and Merchants is a $965-million bank that was started 117 years ago. It has branches in Archbold, Perrysburg, Waterville, Indiana, and Michigan.

Along a nearly three-mile stretch of Monroe Street, between Main and Whiteford, there are more than 10 banking locations, a mix of local and national companies. That stretch has GenoaBank, a firm based in Genoa and which is building its first Sylvania location and expects it to open in September.

With GenoaBank and Farmers and Merchants, there are at least five local banks in Sylvania or Sylvania Township. Others are Metamora State Bank, Waterford Bank, and Signature Bank. And there are at least 10 credit unions in the Sylvania area.

"The more the community prospers, the more the local bank benefits," said Ms. Filogamo.

She said the bank, which lends to small businesses and farms, offers nimble decision-making on loan approvals and other key decisions than larger banks which may need corporate approvals.

Carla Nowak, director of marketing for Fifth Third Bank, said the bank has a "long tradition" in the northwest Ohio region and views itself as a community bank. Fifth Third is based in Cincinnati and its its regional office in Toledo.

"It just depends on how you define that term," she said.

Pat Nowak, executive director of the Sylvania Area Chamber of Commerce, said, "There seems to be a trend in the local banking. People want community -- regional or local -- banks like Farmers. It is similar to the local shopping trend and being more involved in the community. These banks see the Sylvania area as an opportunity for growth."

Paul Siebenmorgen, president and chief financial officer of Farmers and Merchants, said the new branch in Sylvania will provide technology products such as Popmoney payment service, online payment options, and a service to allows images to be processed, such as checks, through a smartphone.

The building Farmers and Merchant is renovation used to have an Arya Rugs store, and at one time, a bank. The 2,700-square-foot space being remodeled has drive-through windows and mechanisms for teller and ATM service.

Next to the red-brick building is an empty building which will be demolished in the next week to make room for parking. The bank will have 36 parking spaces.

The company is hiring. Applications can be submitted at www.fm-bank.com.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.

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(c)2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

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Source: Blade (Toledo, OH)


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