A new bank opened in Bedford this morning – It’s the first bank to open in New Hampshire since the onset of the Great Recession and the just the second chartered in the United States since 2010.
Standing before the new Primary Bank branch office building, bank President and CEO Bill Stone acknowledged how crazy it may seem to open a bank in the current regulatory climate. Before the recession hit, more than 100 new banks opened yearly on average across the country, according to the FDIC. With the Dodd-Frank federal regulations that followed the Great Recession, an international financial panic and a low Federal Reserve interest rate, opening a new bank has made little financial sense over the past few years.
But Stone says it is in part due to the recession that he and his investors found a market for a small, community-oriented bank. Many banks consolidated following the Great Recession, becoming bigger and less personal, Stone says. In New Hampshire alone, according to Banking Commissioner reports, 61 branches closed between 2007 and 2013. So, he says, he’s responding to a growing call for a return to personalized banking.
So as I continued to hear small business owners say that they weren’t getting the service from a local bank, they weren’t able to meet with the local decision makers, I knew it was time, that we needed a local community bank.
Primary Bank intends to stay local, providing loans and money management services to small and medium-sized businesses and to individuals in Southern New Hampshire. Economist Dennis Delay at the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies suggests that the community’s interest in this kind of banking is an indication of broader financial health in the state.
If there’s increased demand for loans and banking services generally - banks provide a lot of services – it’s probably more of an indication that the economy is expanding than anything else.
The New Hampshire dignitaries in attendance at Primary Bank’s grand opening, including Governor Maggie Hassan, were more than happy to say the same.