The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance has approved a highly contested application filed by a group of investors to form a bank in Ellijay, Ga.

Gilmer County Bank's application was approved late last month by banking Commissioner Edward D. Dunn against bitter opposition by two larger institutions that argued no new bank was needed.

Capital-Raising Comes First

"We are ready to go to work," said Robert M. Moler, a banking consultant retained by Gilmer County Bank. "We've got to raise the capital, get the organization put in place and... compete."

Mr. Moler said the state and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. must approve the bank's offering circular. He expects the offering to begin within 10 days.

Gilmer County Bank plans to raise from $5.25 million to $6 million. Shares will sell for $10 each. Mr. Moler said the bank could be up and running by Nov. 1. "That may be ambitious," he said. "We've got to build a building."

There may also be a legal challenge by First National Bancorp of Gainesville and by Dahlonega-based Century South Banks Inc., the two larger neighboring institutions that protested formation of the new bank.

60 Days to Seek Court Intervention

The banks could request a judicial review within the next 60 days.

Meanwhile, Gilmer County Bank is going ahead with its plans. "We are going to go out with the offering material and selling the stock," Mr. Moler said. "At the end of 60 days, if there are no other challenges ... then we will start building the building."

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