Organizers look to open bank in western North Carolina

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A group is looking to form a bank in western North Carolina.

Organizers of Highlands Banking Co. filed an application on Tuesday with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for deposit insurance. The bank would be based in Highlands, a town near North Carolina’s borders with Georgia and South Carolina.

The group said in the filing that there is a need for a new bank in the market, noting that Wells Fargo has closed two of its area branches and that Bank of America, PNC Financial had completed exited.

Robby Roberts, former president and CEO of First Newton Bank in Covington, Ga., is set to serve as CEO, according to the group's FDIC application. He is currently a director at Newton Federal Bank in Covington.

The proposed bank's president would be Tony Potts, a former branch manager at Entegra Bank in Franklin, N.C., which was sold last year to First Citizens BancShares. First Citizens sold Potts' branch to Select Bank, the filing said.

Susan Gibbs, a former director of deposit operations for Entegra, would serve as chief operating officer.

Deanna Mote, who previously served as a vice president at Pinnacle Bank in Clarksville, Ga., would become chief financial officer.

Ted Gammill, a bank consultant at DD&F Consulting Group, is one of the proposed bank's organizers.

Organizers plan to raise $12.8 million in initial capital.

The group said in their filing that the capital should be "sufficient" because Highlands will be located in a rural market.

"Although the [market] has strong historical and future growth prospects, the bank does not expect to generate the volume of depoists and loans that may be typical of a new bank establishing itself in a larger metropolitan area," the filing said.

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