Statewide: Western region, June 2015

 In 2015-06
Heading south

After raising $64 million in a public offering in September, Entegra Financial has surged on the stock market while prepping for faster growth. The Franklin-based holding company for Macon Bank converted from a mutual savings bank by issuing shares for $10. Shares traded for about $16 in early May as Entegra plans to use the cash infusion to expand in upstate South Carolina and other markets. It opened a loan-production office in Greenville, S.C., earlier this year “that will make a significant difference in our loan growth for the coming year,” CEO Roger Plemens says. Founded in 1922, it now has more than $900 million in assets and 11 retail branches located in western North Carolina. (None are in Asheville, though some loans are made there.) Like most peers, it suffered in the recession because of higher unemployment and more troubled loans, with the bank hit hard by defaults by owners of second homes in its key counties of Macon, Henderson, Jackson, Polk, Transylvania and Cherokee. It lost more than $40 million in 2010 and 2011. But unemployment in the region has declined more than 30% over the last four years, and nonperforming loans decreased to $16.8 million on Dec. 31 from $60.5 million in 2010. It reported a $5.9 million profit last year. While demand for mountain homes is increasing, Entegra is also focusing on business loans, recently adding two commercial-loan officers. “Right now, our loan pipeline is better than it’s been in several years. We’ve had to get more aggressive,” Plemens says. The bank will be rebranded as Entegra this fall. “A lot of people thought we’re from Macon, Ga.,” rather than its home county. “We just want a name that doesn’t limit us geographically.”



Briefs

LENOIRAvery Dennison will close its local plant and lay off 143 people by June 2016. The Glendale, Calif.-based company, which makes labels and packaging materials, is relocating manufacturing operations to Honduras and Mexico. The company also plans to close
its Greensboro plant, which will idle 82 workers.

JEFFERSONAmerican Emergency Vehicles will add 40 jobs to its existing 340. The new jobs will pay an average annual wage of $31,079, comparable to Ashe County’s $32,312. Based here, the company designs and assembles ambulances and plans to relocate to a larger, 210,000-square-foot building. Ashe County will receive a $500,000 state grant to renovate the 37-year-old building if the company meets job-creation goals.

ASHEVILLE — Software company Lab Escape was acquired by Boston-based Teikametrics for an undisclosed amount. Founded in 2005, Lab Escape provides visual data analysis for e-commerce retailers and employs five people. Teikametrics helps Amazon retailers, including The Vitamin Shoppe, with repricing and inventory management.

ASHEVILLEAsheville Regional Airport received a $10 million federal grant to help it build a new runway to replace its existing one, which is more than 50 years old. The project is part of a $64 million, four-year redevelopment that began in August to improve airport infrastructure.

BANNER ELKLees McRae College will spend $200,000 to expand and renovate its athletic complex and student recreation center by fall. A 7,000-square-foot building that currently houses a swimming pool will be converted to an indoor training center. Other additions include a media room, locker rooms and a study lounge. The projects will be paid for with private donations.

ASHEVILLEHomeTrust Bancshares, holding company for HomeTrust Bank, named Brian Gompers senior vice president and commercial banking relationship manager. He has worked in commercial banking for 29 years, most recently with Little Rock, Ark.-based Bank of the Ozarks and Cherry Hill, N.J.-based TD Bank, a subsidiary of Toronto-based TD Bank Group. Founded in 1926 as Clyde Savings Bank, HomeTrust now has 45 branches in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Virginia and assets totaling $2.6 billion.

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