Despite a resurgence of interest in starting new banks in North Carolina this year, several are struggling to open and at least one has abandoned its efforts.
The would-be founders say the problems range from an inadequate board of directors to simultaneous capital-raising by other institutions in the community that kept local investors away. In some cases, the proposed structures were just too ambitious or complicated.
"Some of these things are just momentary bursts of enthusiasm," said Thad Woodard, executive director of the Community Bankers Association of North Carolina. "And while all of that is good, to turn that into reality, you must have leadership, leadership, leadership. The dream by itself cannot stand alone."
The state has had more start-up efforts in the last 12 months than at any time in at least 15 years. At least 22 institutions have either opened their doors in the last year, or are in the process of forming.
But in spite of the apparent receptiveness to new ventures after years of consolidation, some of the new entities are running into big - even insurmountable - obstacles.
The organizers of Cape Fear Bank and Trust in Fayetteville, threw in the towel last month after raising less than $3 million, not even half of what was required by regulators, after an 11-month effort. It had originally hoped to open by last October.
"We were unlucky, I guess," said W. LeGrande Bennett Jr., who would've been chief executive of the bank and is now searching for other opportunities.
Other start-up banks have had to revise their proposed organizational structures, request extensions on their capital offering periods, or cut back on the proposed number of branches.
In Greensboro, Carolina Savings Bank, which had also intended to open by last October, has been granted three extensions for its capital raising. It has raised $4.3 million, and hopes to have the required $6 million by June.
"When things got bogged down in the middle of the time frame, we realized we had to make a change," said Jay D. Cornet, who would be chairman of Carolina Savings.
The organizers dropped their plan of purchasing a mortgage company in conjunction with formation of the bank. That strategy proved to be too difficult to carry out at this point in the process, Mr. Cornet said.
The key to a successful bank formation, the organizers and experts seemed to agree, is a formidable board of directors, whose members are well-known in their communities.
That may have been one of the problems in Cape Fear's case, Mr. Bennett acknowledged. He said that though the proposed directors were all upstanding individuals, they did have "some weaknesses."