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Bank, bank, everywhere a bank

Eleven years ago, Falcon residents had to drive to Colorado Springs or Calhan to cash a check or deposit money into their savings account. Then, Farmers State Bank moved to town.State Bank discovered Falcon in August 2000, and Ent Credit Union opened its branch in March 2005.On May 18, Colorado National Bank hosted a grand opening for their new Falcon bank. Three more financial institutions plan to move to town in the near future.”When Farmers State Bank held its grand opening in 1996, hundreds of people showed up to welcome us to Falcon,” said Don Root, branch manager at Falcon’s Farmers State Bank.Root said bank officials decided to open a branch here before there was any major development in the area. “At that point we had no idea that it would grow like it did, but we decided to open a branch here for the convenience of our existing customers,” he said.Residents’ age and income, the number of businesses in an area and traffic patterns are some of the factors bankers must consider. “While growth in the banking business follows roof-tops, Falcon also is a cross-road for commuters from the eastern part of the county too,” he said.State Bank is based in the eastern part of the county – La Junta, Colo. Senior Vice President Al Kreps said he had never heard of Falcon until he attended a banking convention, where Matt Mathis, then president of Farmers State Bank, spoke about the town and the tremendous amount of growth and opportunity in the area.Kreps said the economy in Falcon is based on a different dimension than their bank in La Junta. In Falcon, retail and home accounts provide the majority of the bank’s income, he said. “In La Junta, they have five commercial banks and two credit unions in a town of 9,000, and their economy is driven by agriculture.”The age of the population plays a significant role in how much people save, Kreps said. “Rocky Ford has $19 million in deposits with less than half the customers you have here,” he said. “Probably because it has a higher percentage of senior citizens with a little higher balance in their accounts, and they tend to invest in more CDs than younger families.”No matter the economic factors, Root said banking is a “convenience-driven service business; people bank where they work or live, and not many people will go out of their way to drive to any particular bank.”Root said he doesn’t know how many banks the town can support. “But you can bet financial institutions study demographics before investing their money,” he said.Other banks that have invested their money in Falcon include Academy Bank, which is opening a branch in the new Wal-Mart and First Bank, scheduled to open this fall. Root said Chase Bank is going to open a branch in Safeway.The president of Colorado National Bank, Dave Alley, in Falcon for his bank’s grand opening said he sees great potential for their branch in Falcon because of the rapid growth in the area. “We also have many customers here who were banking in Colorado Springs,” he said. He said he is anticipating many commercial accounts.”All this competition will be good for the consumer,” Root said. “Farmers Bank and all the other banks will have to stay competitive, offering better rates and more services to customers.”After you offer the best possible product to people, then it will all boil down to which bank has the best customer service.”

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