BANGOR, Maine — The largest bank in eastern Maine has announced a major expansion into the Portland area as part of a push to capitalize on a competitive market.
Jim Conlon, president and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank, was in Portland on Monday to announce the opening of three new branches in Portland and one in the Portland suburb of Falmouth by January 2011.
The branches are expected to open on staggered dates, with the first planned for July, and will create 23 new jobs.
“By investing in this area, and by adding these new jobs, Bangor Savings Bank will have a total of 80 Portland-based employees, which is 70 more than we had five years ago,” Conlon said in a statement. “This brings our overall statewide total to more than 650 jobs.”
Bangor Savings Bank, founded in 1852, has 52 branches across the state and lent more than $500 million to businesses and individuals in 2009, according to Senior Vice President Yellow Light Breen. More than $100 million of that total came out of the four Bangor Savings Bank branches that already exist in the Portland area.
“The demographics of economic activity and the population base [in Greater Portland] was the biggest reason to continue expanding, but the other big reason is the competitive environment,” Breen said Monday. “There are a lot of great banks, but the area is dominated by larger, out-of-state banks. Given what has happened in the national economy, the importance of doing business locally has shot up considerably. We compete very well down here.”
The Portland locations that are scheduled to open by next year are Middle Street in the Old Port, which will be the first to open; Forest Avenue, and Allen Avenue near the city’s Northgate area. The Falmouth location will be on Route 1.
The four branches represent an investment of about $4 million.
Bangor Savings Bank first opened in Portland on Fore Street in 2005 and added additional branches in 2007 on Brighton Avenue, at the Mill Creek Shopping Center in South Portland, and at Oak Hill in Scarborough.
So far, the bank has added nearly 6,000 personal customers and 1,200 new business customers, growing customer balances from $25.4 million in 2005 to $194.5 million.
“I am very grateful to our growing list of loyal customers,” Conlon said. “Our bank has grown because our loyal customers have put their trust in us, and our customers’ business growth is commendable and worthy of this community’s recognition.”
One of those customers — Allan Labos, owner of a small business in downtown Portland — attended Monday’s announcement.
“We have been a proud and loyal customer of Bangor Savings Bank since 2006,” Labos said. “In a world where true customer service seems to be the exception rather than the rule, Bangor Savings constantly exceeds our expectations by listening to our needs so that they can support our visions for today and the future.”
Although the area has been receptive to Bangor Savings, Breen said his company will continue to market and advertise for new customers.
“At the end of the day, the most powerful advertising is word of mouth,” he said.
Bangor Savings Bank has no immediate plans for further expansion, but Breen said the door remains open.
“For us, four new branches in less than a year is an aggressive push,” he said. “But later, down the road, if there are still opportunities, we’ll continue to be opportunistic.”