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BANKING Second Bancorp expands its reach



Published: Tue, July 24, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN

The local bank says the deal shows it is committed to growing in Cuyahoga County.

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

WARREN -- Second National Bank is continuing its push into the Cleveland area with the acquisition of a bank with two branches.

Second Bancorp, the Warren-based holding company for Second National, said Monday that it intends to buy Commerce Exchange Corp. for about $26.5 million. Commerce is the parent company of Commerce Exchange Bank, which has branches in Beachwood and North Olmsted.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter and needs approval by Commerce's shareholders and regulators.

Committed: Rick Blossom, Second Bancorp president and chairman, said the deal shows the bank's commitment to Cuyahoga County. In 1998, Second Bancorp acquired Enterprise Bank of Solon.

Blossom has been looking for deals that will fill in gaps in the coverage area. Among the areas being reviewed are Columbiana and Geauga counties and northwest Pennsylvania, he said last year.

He also said he wanted to expand in suburban Cleveland, not to compete with all of the major banks there but to offer community banking in some areas.

Both Commerce branches are to be operated as Second National branches. Blossom said Second National wants to maintain the personal service offered at the branches and expand the financial services offered.

"This combination works for Second Bancorp only if it works for Commerce's customers," he said.

Dean Chimples, Commerce chairman, said Second Bancorp will bring larger credit capacity and a wider array of loan, investment, insurance and trust products. Commerce was founded in 1986.

"We are excited about the enhanced consumer products and services that Second National will bring to our customers," he said.

The combined companies would have assets of $1.7 billion with $1.2 billion in deposits. Commerce brings $119 million in assets and $104 million in deposits.

Second Bancorp, which would have 36 branches with the deal, said the transaction will modestly add to earnings in the first year.




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