Even during a time of a slow economy and failing financial institutions, one community bank remains strong and continues to serve its customers. In fact, one island bank has even grown despite these troubled times.
To celebrate the opening of the new branch on Pine Island, Southwest Capital will host a grand opening at its new facility Friday, March 20, from 3 to 7 p.m. All are invited to come and tour the facility and enjoy a meal consisting of fried mullet, mullet fritters, hot dogs, baked beans, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, rolls and soft drinks.
Southwest Capital Bank recently opened its new Pine Island Banking Center at the island center just north of Pork Bellies Restaurant and is ready to provide its customers with a full range of services.
Special to THE EAGLE
Posing in front of the new Southwest Capital Bank Branch on Pine Island are bank employees Joanne Merrit, Amanda Frank, Fran Snyder, Scarlett Player and Anne DeCarufel, and seated is Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager Elsie Stearns.
"We are islanders taking care of islanders who are dedicated to delivering unparalleled service," said Elsie Stearns, assistant vice president and branch manager. "We are a traditional bank during untraditional times and pride ourselves on being a true community bank."
The new bank is located at 5551 Sunset Lane, just south of the four-way stop in St. James City. Not new to the island, Southwest Capital first arrived in October 2007, opening a temporary office at 10530 Stringfellow Road at the island center and experiencing a very successful start attracting island patrons.
Stearns, a long-time resident of Pine Island, also has been working in the banking business on the island for many years and was first employed by the former South Trust Bank which now operates as Wachovia.
Friday, March 20, 3 to 7 p.m.
Southwest Capital Bank
"My husband and I have been living on Pine Island for 33 years and I have been in the banking business for the last 23," Stearns said. "My husband and son have a family-owned and run business here on the island as well so I am well aware of what it takes to make a small business successful."
Stearns also said that she raised her children, who are now raising her grandchildren, on Pine Island.
According to Stearns, her staffers are island residents and are familiar with the people of the island.
"All of my staff are year-round residents. When our customers come into the bank, they are not only greeted by a professional staff, but their neighbors and friends as well," she said.
Stearns also said the bank has a commitment to the Pine Island community that reaches beyond just being a local banking facility.
"Many of us also volunteer to assist island charities. I, myself, am on the Beacon Board, the Bobby Holloway Board and the Habitat for Humanity Steering Committee," Stearns said. "We not only work here, but live here and are active members of our community."
During these troubled economic times and with the struggling banking industry, Stearns said she thinks Southwest Capital has something of an advantage.
"People are concerned and have come in asking a lot of questions, but there are benefits to being a new bank," she said. "We don't have any baggage like the older banks do. We have a fresh start with no sub-prime or equity line issues. In addition, we are very stable, well capitalized and have very good leadership. I believe all of these things definitely give us an advantage over some of the other banks."
The new facility offers its customers full banking services, including safe deposit boxes, two drive-up lanes, a state-of-the-art ATM and a night depository for after-hours transactions.
In addition to the products and services provided by Southwest Capital, the facility also features, out back, an area called Live Oak Park which Stearns says will be made available to the community.
"The park and pavilion will be a nice place for local charities to host small fund-raisers like book sales and car washes. We also have a drive around the back of the park to accommodate our customers who use the drive up when towing a boat or trailer," she said. "This area of the property was developed with the uniqueness of our community in mind."
Priding itself as a local community bank, Southwest Capital Bank, N.A., specializes in small and medium-sized businesses, as well as helping personal banking customers with local management and decisions.
One of several banking facilities in the Lee County area, the corporate headquarters of Southwest Capital Bank is located on Creekside Lane in Fort Myers. For more information, visit swcaptalbank.com