PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Two years after coming to Aroostook County, Machias Savings Bank is investing in a new branch building to compete in the lending and savings business.
“We are here to stay,” Machias Savings Bank President Larry Barker said Wednesday morning during a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of construction for a new 4,700-square-foot building to replace a branch in Presque Isle.
In the summer of 2013, Machias Savings Bank entered into an agreement to purchase six northern Maine branches from the Bank of Maine, assuming $75 million in customer deposits and certain loans. The Fort Kent, Mars Hill and Houlton branches were later closed.
Machias Savings is looking to grow especially in Presque Isle, the business hub of Aroostook County. Slated to open in the spring of 2016, the new facility will be at the same property at 9 Dyer St. and replace an older building that among other things is very expensive to heat, Barker said.
The new building, relying on a number of local contractors, will be energy-efficient and have “state-of-the-art technology” for employees and customers, Barker said.
The investment in the new building, whose total costs were not disclosed, is an indication that “Machias Savings Bank likes doing business with the people of Presque Isle,” the company said in a media release.
“I’m a blueberry farmer myself, so the smell of diesel smoke coming from a tractor is greatly appreciated,” Barker said.
Under manager Michael Kelley, the Presque Isle branch “has been really successful,” Barker said. Loan balances have increased 160 percent, and deposit balances are up 38 percent.
Greater Presque Isle’s business community is happy to have another option for lenders, said Theresa Fowler, executive director of the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce.
“The business community in central Aroostook is like family,” she said during the ceremony.
After the old building is torn down, there will be a fair amount of open space at the location, just off the intersection of Routes 163 and 227. Barker said Machias Savings is going to work with the city of Presque Isle to consider options for opening the space to the public in some way, such as for a roadside Christmas tree market.