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 December 3, 1999

Several banks looking at expansions to Erie

ERIE — The FirstBank of Longmont bought its branch in Erie, the small town just northeast of Boulder, more than 35 years ago.

Now hungry residential developers, watching as land disappears from Boulder County, are shifting their wary eyes to the small town, and Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank Greg Lee is excited.

“There are so many developments in the area,” Lee said. “Boulder’s run out of land, Louisville’s running out of land, but Erie seems to have a lot of land available.”

But most banks around the Denver metro area do not share in Lee’s enthusiasm.

Though Erie voters will decide Dec. 14 whether to annex the controversial 2,700-acre Northfield project, which could bring a golf course, office park and retail center to the town, bank officials across Boulder County said that Erie has promising residential growth but not enough business and commercial growth to support a branch expansion in the immediate future.

“We look for developed, populated areas and a large business climate as well as construction and commercial activity,´ said Mike Cafasso, chief operating officer of Pueblo Bank and Trust.

Commercial activity drives up the number of large loans, which can make or break many financial institutions, Cafasso said.

He added that Denver’s business-rich south side looks far more appealing to an expanding bank in terms of meaty loans and commercial building. The population is already in place to support the booming business.

“We’re looking to continue across the Front Range in a more business-oriented climate,” Cafasso said.

Pueblo Bank and Trust has two branches in the city of Boulder, and its headquarters are located in Pueblo.

Jake Puzio of Community First National Bank, which operates 11 branches in Boulder County, agrees with Cafasso’s assessment of Erie’s banking climate.

His bank looks at competition and commercial growth, placing less emphasis on residential growth.

Though many banks in the area see little reason for establishing a branch on Erie’s banking landscape in the near future, the town is developing a sound economic plan for the next millennium to attract banks once the people move in.

“Our goal is to diversify our tax base and increase retail sales in Erie to make us less dependent on growth dollars,´ said Dave Stahl, Erie town administrator.

Despite what many banks told The Boulder County Business Report, Stahl said that the town of Erie is in negotiations with two banks scheduled to open within the next year. He would not name the banks involved in the negotiations.

“The draw is the obvious residential development as well as commercial development which will soon occur here,” Stahl said “We are the next growing area moving west and north.”

Jason Remmerde, vice president of FirstBank of Longmont in Erie, said he agrees that the city is working hard to fan the flames of Erie’s banking embers.

“At this branch we’ve seen growth in loans and deposits, and a few more businesses are going in downtown,” Remmerde said.

But Remmerde said commercial developers usually wait “to see rooftops” before breaking ground in a growing town.

He added that five years down the road the banking picture in Erie could change, but now banks just don’t see large growth potential in a primarily residential community.

The lack of competition means the longtime FirstBank of Longmont will continue to be the cornerstone of Erie’s banking community.

“I think we are competitive,” Remmerde said. “We have a good customer base accompanied by some bigger loans.”

“We’ve always thought Erie was a good place to be,” Lee said.

ERIE — The FirstBank of Longmont bought its branch in Erie, the small town just northeast of Boulder, more than 35 years ago.

Now hungry residential developers, watching as land disappears from Boulder County, are shifting their wary eyes to the small town, and Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank Greg Lee is excited.

“There are so many developments in the area,” Lee said. “Boulder’s run out of land, Louisville’s running out of land, but Erie seems to have a lot of land available.”

But most banks around the Denver metro area do not share in Lee’s enthusiasm.

Though Erie voters…

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