The former chairman and chief executive officer of First Michigan Bank is tapping the public markets to start a community bank.

Gerard R. Johnson, who resigned from First Michigan in May after it was acquired by Huntington Bancshares, Columbus, Ohio, is leading a team of investors in forming Mercantile Bank Inc.

Although Mercantile is not open for business, it began selling stock to the public Friday at $10 a share.

The bank planned to issue 1.3 million shares of stock, said Mercantile's investment banker, Brian Roney of Roney & Co., Detroit.

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