CUMMING, Ga. — When Jim Miller, chairman of Fidelity Bank, explains what attracted him to open a Forsyth County branch, it’s not much different from what attracts new residents to this community.
“The stores are busy, the lake [Lanier] is a huge amenity, you run your government and your schools right,” Miller said. “People want to be here, and it shows.”
Fidelity Bank’s latest branch, 2740 Nuckolls Road in Cumming, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. Two months ago, a branch in Johns Creek opened. The bank also has branches in Alpharetta and Roswell.
Growth will continue for Fidelity with several offices being opened later this year, including locations in Savannah and Falls Church. The acquisitions of Security Exchange Bank and Decatur First Bank have added four new branches to the company in the last two months.
The financial institution offers free checking to both consumers and businesses.
“Our personal banking and smaller business banking have been amazingly successful,” Miller said.
Miller, who has been with the Fidelity since 1976, said that when the markets crashed with the latest depression, his bank saw an opportunity.
“We made loans,” Miller said. “We didn’t go into a shell. We kept opening branches, hired steadily [400 people] and made loans available to people. It’s worked beautifully for us.”
Last year, the bank made about $2 billion in loans. This year, they are poised to lend $3 billion.
“Not bad for a country bank,” he said. “We’re not a big bureaucratic bank.”
And that’s exactly what drew Mariesa and Wayne Breaux to bank with Fidelity.
“We had a bad customer service experience at another bank,” Wayne said. “We looked for a good community bank and from our research, they were the best.”
Mariesa added that everyone says “hello” and there’s always coffee and “really good” cookies.
“It’s a throwback in time,” Mariesa said. “They give you the feeling they are here to help you.”
Other customers were also on hand, as well as Forsyth County business and government leaders, to welcome the bank to the area and celebrate the new branch. A barbecue lunch was served in the bank’s parking lot.
Palmer Proctor, president of Fidelity Bank, said this marks the 31st branch location for the financial institution. They will be offering experienced full-service bankers, who will offer mortgage origination, commercial banking and small business lending in addition to consumer banking.
“There are opportunities [in Forsyth County] and there’s strength in this market,” Proctor said. “With so many banks closing now-a-days, we see it as an opportunity to come to a new market, make a presence and help the community.”
Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce President and CEO James McCoy said the bank is a welcome addition to the business community.
“We’re very pleased to have them, and we believe that this is a good reflection of what is going on in our economy and very pleased with the confidence they placed in us and the future of this community,” McCoy said.
For more information, visit www.lionbank.com.