Its mission accomplished in Arizona, a Lansing, Mich., banking company is ready to gamble on Nevada.

Capitol Bancorp, with $923 million of assets, is forming a subsidiary, Nevada Community Bancorp, to open banks across the fast-growing Silver State.

The first would be in Las Vegas and capitalized through a $5 million private offering, said Joseph D. Reid, Capitol's chairman and chief executive officer. An application is to be filed with state regulators in January.

"We're going to be in Nevada in a big way," said Mr. Reid. He added that he is close to hiring a longtime Nevada banker to run the subsidiary there.

Capitol operates 14 affiliated banks targeting high-net-worth people, professionals, and small businesses. Its start-up banks are 49% locally owned, recruit local board members, and are typically run by well-known local bankers displaced by mergers.

The company expanded into Arizona in 1996 to diversify its balance sheet and shield itself from any possible economic downturn in Michigan. Since then, the Arizona subsidiary, $140 million-asset Sun Community Bancorp, has opened five banks-in Tucson, Phoenix, and Scottsdale-and plans to open a sixth in December.

Mr. Reid said Capitol is targeting Nevada for the same reasons it entered Arizona: growing population, economic growth, and bank consolidation. Arizona's Maricopa County and Nevada's Clark County have been the fastest-growing counties nationwide this decade, he said.

In Las Vegas, however, Capitol is entering a crowded start-up banking market: Eight banks have been opened in the city since 1994.

Daniel Cardenas, bank analyst at Howe Barnes Investments in Chicago, said Capitol should expect to find Nevada competitive. But he said that Capitol's operating strategy has paid dividends in Michigan and Arizona.

"The company studies their markets thoroughly before moving in," said Mr. Cardenas, "and they have been successful."

Capitol also has its sights set on California, Mr. Reid said.

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