South Carolina-based Southern First Bank plans to make its first foray into North Carolina by opening a full-service branch in Raleigh.
The bank, which is headquartered in Greenville, S.C., already has opened a temporary loan production office in Raleigh and expects to be able to announce the site of its branch office in the next few weeks, CEO Art Seaver said in an interview. He added that the bank has a list of possible sites that it is considering and hopes to have a full-service branch operating by the end of the third quarter.
Established in 1999, Southern First has nine branches in South Carolina and $1.3 billion in assets. Its shares are traded on Nasdaq.
The Triangle beckoned to Southern First in part because the region is thriving.
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“It’s often listed as one of the top 10 markets in the country,” Seaver said.
In addition, he said, the Triangle has been experiencing a lot of “banking disruption” caused by a series of industry mergers and acquisitions in recent years.
The company’s expansion philosophy has always been to “expand to the right market at the right time, but only with the right bankers,” Seaver said.
Southern First’s branch will be led by a team of former Paragon Bank executives led by Jonathan Taylor, executive vice president and Triangle market executive. Taylor previously was a senior vice president at Paragon.
Southern First is currently operating a loan production office at 4700 Falls of Neuse, but that could end up being “temporary temporary space,” Seaver said.
Depending on the site the bank selects for its permanent full-service branch, said Taylor, Southern First could move into a larger temporary office space where it will be able to offer a full range of banking services while it renovates its permanent space.
In the second quarter, Southern First reported net income of $3.3 million, up from $2.6 million a year ago.