GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - The new FirstBank at 2014 Grand Ave. opens today in a new million-dollar building with a staff of 11 and a standing offer for free personal checking accounts."Come see what we can do," said Erin O'Keefe, Roaring Fork Valley market president and a 21-year employee with FirstBank Holding Co. "We have such a huge history in Colorado. We've been around for 50 years, and we are primarily management- and employee-owned."The bank plans a grand opening on Nov. 16, and a special feature will be the bank's collection of black and white photos taken by Colorado Mountain College photography students.O'Keefe moved to the valley from Boulder in August to manage the bank's entry into the Roaring Fork Valley market.In 2011, FirstBank Holding Co. purchased the two-acre parcel that was formerly the site of the Post Independent's offices. B&H General Contractors of Glenwood Springs razed the old building and built a new, 4,600-square-foot building designed by A4 Architects of Carbondale.O'Keefe said she will be looking for additional branch locations upvalley in Carbondale, Basalt and Aspen."Our intent is to expand, fill in the valley and see what else we can do," she said.FirstBank transferred O'Keefe and five other employees to Glenwood Springs, including Tom Ashley as senior vice president and Brendan Matthias as vice president, and three branch supervisors. The bank also hired locally to fill five more positions.She said the bank is "probably a little overstaffed," but said having plenty of trained people will be helpful as the bank opens more branches in the area.FirstBank has had branches in Eagle and Summit counties for decades.For years, however, Glenwood Canyon was too formidable a barrier to opening a branch. Bank officials were worried that deposits wouldn't reliably make it to the bank's central processing center in Lakewood every day, O'Keefe said.But now that banking regulations allow for electronic imaging, the Internet can carry the load, opening up new territory for the bank.Several people have questioned the valley's need for yet another banking company, but O'Keefe is confident that FirstBank will find its niche."We are so well-capitalized. The valley needs another bank that is well-capitalized and can support the community. Some of the others were pushed up against their regulatory limits," she said.FirstBank, which operates in 115 locations in Colorado, Arizona and California, held more than $11 billion in deposits as of Sept. 30, an 8 percent increase over the same date in 2011. The bank's total loan portfolio grew from $4.9 billion to $5.9 billion in that same period, according to a summary of the bank's third quarter financial results.The bank's year-to-date net income was $121 million, according to John Ikard, CEO of FirstBank Holding Co.The new bank offers online banking, free personal checking and a debit card program that allows customers to round up from 1 cent to $99 per debit card purchase to build a personal savings account. It also offers mortgages, home equity loans, commercial loans, business accounts and services.O'Keefe noted that FirstBank does not resell its mortgages, giving it more flexibility in matching a loan to each customer's needs.The Glenwood Springs bank will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Drive-through windows will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, and the bank has a 24-hour ATM.
FirstBank makes Roaring Fork Valley debut
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