FLB fails, but no time to panic

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The news of First Lowndes Bank’s takeover by the State of Alabama late Friday afternoon was definitely something we did not want to hear. The bank’s failure is evidence, once again, that the recession of 2008-09 continues to impact our local economy.

First Lowndes Bank – which operated branches in Hayneville, Fort Deposit, Greenville, and Highland Home – was a major financial player in Butler, Lowndes, and Crenshaw counties and had operated here since 1984. The bank reported losses of $8.25 million in 2009. The bank is the first to fail in Alabama in 2010.

It’s never good news when a bank fails, especially one that had been a longtime member of our community. Still, this is no time to panic. First Lowndes Bank could have very easily been closed, had a buyer not been found, but First Citizens Bank of Luverne will purchase the four branches as part of its agreement with the FDIC. William Petrey, president and CEO of First Citizens, assured customers on Friday through the Associated Press that, “no depositors will lose a dime.”

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The fact that a solid community bank – and one locally owned and operated – took possession of First Lowndes is a big plus for Butler County. First Citizens listed assets at $102 million prior to the purchase of First Lowndes Bank and has been open in Crenshaw County since 1980. According to Petrey, the bank had planned to expand prior to Friday’s events.

Let us be the first to welcome First Citizens Bank to the Greenville and Butler County community. We hope their presence here provides a stable financial institution for all former and future First Lowndes customers.