By: Shar Dimick
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
A standing-room only crowd of concerned villagers gathered at the Fayette Opera House November 18 to discuss community banking options in light of Huntington Banks announcement on September 25 of the closing of both Fayette branches leaving the community without a local bank.
Mayor Ruth Marlatt kicked off the Fayette Chamber-sponsored open public forum, highlighting the many businesses and the other positive aspects of Fayette. Marlatt said, “Even though we are experiencing the closing of Huntington Bank for our local economic development endeavors, we are working with banks that are represented this evening and others that couldn’t be with us this evening. We want to thank them for coming and we want them to learn a bit about us.”
“Keep in mind,” she continued, “that tonight we want to focus on looking forward to new possibilities for our community. We need to work together to make Fayette the great community that it deserves to be and at the same time bring thriving business to our community.”
Martlatt turned the discussion over to Dee Ferguson, a 30-year bank, employee who gave a brief history of the bank buildings now owned by Huntington Bank. She said the original bank was incorporated in the fall of 1906 and has been run steadily as a bank with many different names and owners for over a 100 years. It became a Huntington branch in 2007 when Huntington acquired Sky Bank.
The forum then opened up to the floor for questions and comments led by Tom Spiess, director of the Fayette Community Fine Arts Council and former Fayette Village Administrator. Spiess said that they invited eight Northwest-Ohio area banks to the forum to learn more about the community and the potential of locating a branch in Fayette. He said that they had a wonderful response and heard from every bank. Spiess said that four of those eight banks had representatives at the meeting. He went on to compare Fayette to other similar-sized communities and outlined the community banks present in those communities.
Spiess took questions from the audience whose main concerns ranged from the closing of the ATM machine to the inability to get change for local businesses to run to the security risk many non-profits (churches) and other business had making nightly deposits and having to drive 20 miles to the nearest branch. Business-owners emphasized the need to have a local bank in their community to do business with.
Brian Miller, Vice President of Sherwood State Bank, said “Our challenge for this community would simply be finding a facility. Like you said we think we could attract deposits, attract business. We do what you need done in this community. That’s what we do. But it’s also our understanding that Huntington probably would not be willing to sell their current real estate to a bank.” He continued to say that finding real estate was only a challenge not an obstacle to doing business in Fayette, but that they or whoever comes to Fayette would need the community’s help to find a location or realtor.
Spiess as well as several other business owner’s assured the bankers present that finding a location to build a bank would not be an issue. Spiess also said “We have had conversations with some banks but it became apparent from those banks and those institutions that the thing we ought to do in our community is what we should be doing nationally and everything else is be transparent and part of that transparency is to say here’s a group let’s introduce bankers to customers and customers to the people that they’ll entrust their wealth to and their wellbeing. And so that’s what tonight is. Have we had conversations of course there’s been some conversations, but none to any point where someone would say is there a deal on the table.”
Shar may be reached at