Monday, September 25, 2023

Startup spirit stirring in N.C. community banking

[media-credit name=”Bill Long” align=”alignright” width=”350″][/media-credit]

Two Charlotte area groups are poised to become the first bank startups in the state since 2009. Bill Long, who has lived in Iredell County for 30 years, is leading the proposed Spirit Community Bank to capture some of the Lake Norman area’s rapid growth. Long, 71, started, then later sold Statesville-based Piedmont Bank to a predecessor of FNB before he exited the industry in 2011.

The N.C. Banking Commission is expected to consider Spirit’s application in June, after which Long anticipates organizers will have to raise $20 million to $30 million from investors.

In Union County, just south of Charlotte, a group led by True Homes USA CEO David Cuthbertson and veteran bankers W.R. “Randy” Adcock and Randy Helton also intend to open a bank. Long and Adcock previously worked for Yadkin Bank, which was acquired last year by Pittsburgh-based FNB. Helton co-founded Monroe-based American Community Bank in 1998; it was later bought by Yadkin.

Industry consolidation has hit the Charlotte area significantly in the last few years. Bank of America is the only commercial lender based in the Queen City after Park National of Ohio agreed to buy NewDominion Bank for about $76 million in January. The city used to boast a half-dozen or more locally owned banks.

Still, the Charlotte metropolitan area has at least seven locally owned banks, ranging in size from Alliance Bank & Trust of Gastonia with about $142 million in assets to Newton-based Peoples Bancorp of North Carolina with $1.1 billion. Two other area banks, Albemarle-based Uwharrie Bank and Granite Quarry-based Farmers & Merchants Bank, each have more than $500 million in assets.

Community bank profits are picking up after years of stagnation caused by increased loan losses, greater regulatory expense and tighter margins between interest paid on deposits and received on loans. Charlotte isn’t alone in seeing starup activity: Skip Brown, former CEO of TriStone Community Bank in Winston-Salem, is also organzing a lender in Forsyth County to be called Community Bank of the Carolinas.

“All the mergers have taken away the community banks I know and loved,” Long says. “It’s not a good thing. I know there are a lot of entrepreneurs who are going to miss out in the next few years if we don’t have one in Statesville.”

In addition to the large regional banks, Spirit will face off against Iredell County rival BlueHarbor Bank, which launched in 2008. It now has four offices, including two in Mooresville and one each in Huntersville and Statesville. Its assets totaled $204 million at the end of 2017, while its market cap totals about $32 million.

EY plans to add 375 jobs and invest $8.2 million over five years in a Charlotte expansion that will include one of the company’s innovation centers. The London-based financial-services firm launched its “wavespace” concept about a year ago, reflecting an increased focus on robotics, blockchain, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

EY, formerly called Ernst & Young and the third-biggest accounting firm in the world, has about 15 such centers in Paris, London, New York City and other locations, with more in the pipeline. The centers allow workers from multiple disciplines to collaborate in what the company calls its “suits + jeans” approach: Accountants and advisers might team with tech workers more accustomed to startup environments.

The company rebranded as EY in 2013, the same year CEO Mark Weinberger took the helm. EY made 13 acquisitions in the latest fiscal year that ended June 30, and revenue increased nearly 8% to $31.4 billion. The company employs more than 1,300 people in North Carolina.

The Charlotte center will be focused on the energy and financial-services sectors, with the new jobs paying a minimum average annual salary of $74,926. The state will pitch in more than $3.2 million in grants over 12 years if EY meets hiring and investment targets.

CHARLOTTE — Pittsburgh-based FNB will anchor a new 31-story uptown tower that will serve as its regional headquarters. It will include 215 apartments and more than 160,000 square feet of office space. Raleigh-based Dominion Realty Partners is the developer.

CHARLOTTE — Mark Beck stepped down as CEO of Jeld-Wen Holding for undisclosed reasons. Chairman Kirk Hachigian has the job until a new CEO is found. The door and window manufacturer also is buying Sacramento, Calif.-based American Building Supply and Australia-based A&L.

CHARLOTTEBank of America will hire 5,400 U.S. workers and open more than 500 branches over the next four years. The company also is redesigning 1,500 existing branches.

CHARLOTTECoats & Clark will close a distribution center and lay off 61 workers in Greer, S.C., after selling one of its business units. The thread company also cut 18 jobs at its local corporate office.

CHARLOTTECurtiss-Wright will acquire Dresser-Rand Government Business for $212.5 million in cash. Dresser-Rand is a unit of Germany-based Siemens that makes compressors, steam turbines and valves for aircraft carriers and submarines.

CHARLOTTEBojangles’ Clifton Rutledge resigned after four years as CEO. Ex-CEO Randy Kibler will lead the chain in the interim. Shares have slid more have 20% since 2015.

CHARLOTTEAtrium Health and UNC Health Care suspended talks over a collaboration announced in August. No agreement was reached on governance issues.

ALBEMARLEQuality Enclosures will invest $3.3 million and add 65 jobs over four years. The New York-based company makes shower enclosures and other tempered-glass products.


David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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