A group of entrepreneurs is preparing to battle some top Midwest banks with a start-up in Wilmette, Ill., an affluent suburb of Chicago.

The group is planning to raise $8.3 million and open North Shore Community Bank and Trust this summer.

Wilmette, a town of 26,690 on the edge of Lake Michigan, already has attracted Banc One Corp., First Chicago Corp. and Harris Bankcorp. But the organizers of North Shore are undeterred, saying there is ample room for a strong, locally based bank.

North Shore, which awaits regulatory approvals, will be "strictly community banking with stock owned by local people and managed by local people," said Lemuel Tate, who is to be be chairman of the new bank.

"With the consolidation that's taken place in the banking industry, large banks have become a little impersonal," added Jack Close, who is slated to become the bank's president.

In fact, Mr. Close left Harris Bank Wilmette about a month ago to join the venture.

"The challenge of starting something from scratch is very exciting," he said. "The community bank idea kind of fit with the way I think banking ought to be done."

The startup group was formed when two teams exploring separate startups in Wilmette decided to join forces.

'The Need Was There'

The fact that two groups were exploring the idea "shows that the need was there," said Mr. Close, who has 22 years of banking experience in the Chicago area.

They groups figured it would be better to work together than to compete, Mr. Tate said. "We found that our philosophies were very close together."

Merging also will allow organizers to raise more capital than if they had worked separately, he said -- and more than many startups.

Although he does not have a banking background, Mr. Tate believes his own experience -- as an administrator at Northwestern University and at what now is Ameritech, the local telephone company -- will benefit the organization.

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