Vernon W. Hill 2nd stops just shy of saying that his investment in a Philadelphia bank is the first step in trying to re-create Commerce Bank in Commerce's own backyard.

Mr. Hill led a group of investors infusing Republic First Bancorp Inc. with $10.8 million, with a goal of building the company into a regional powerhouse. He also will be a consultant to the $1 billion-asset Republic for at least four years and have the right to designate a board nominee.

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