Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 27, 2013

First Farmers lays out downtown game plan

New bank branch should be open in January.

From staff reports
Kokomo Tribune

---- — First Farmers Bank & Trust is planning to relocate a significant portion of its information technology department and the regional offices of its wealth management division to downtown Kokomo, probably starting in December, bank officials said this week.

Plans are in the works to bring a fully operational bank branch and strategic operations center to the newly acquired Armstrong Landon building, with the branch to be up and running some time in January, according to First Farmers vice president of marketing and public relations Tade Powell.

“The overall space that we’re taking on is perfectly suited to several aspects of our business. We’re in the process of designing the layout to maximize efficiency and effectiveness of the different departments. It’s clear that the sheer amount of square footage will allow us considerable flexibility for a variety of possibilities going forward,” said the bank’s Chief Operating Officer Dave Eikenberry.

Signage for the building will incorporate both First Farmers and Ivy Tech Community College, which will be occupying two stories of the six-story building. The building sits on the southwest corner of Sycamore and Main streets downtown.

“We’re exploring some unique options for signage that would highlight the grandeur of the building itself,” Powell said.

“It is such an impressive structure and our goal would be accent that accordingly. The project will represent a significant aspect of our overall operations and I think you want the look and feel of the signage to reflect that. We’re committed to representing the building well and displaying something that the people of Kokomo are proud of.”

Specific timeframes for the project are undetermined at this point, pending the regulatory approval process, but efforts to relocate equipment and staff are set to begin in December. First Farmers Bank and Trust hopes to have the lobby branch open by January.

“We’re excited to get started, but we want to make a smooth transition for our staff and customer base,” Eikenberry said. “It normally will take us 60 to 90 days to get the appropriate approvals and circuits installed. I am confident with everyone working together we will be pleased with the timing in opening our new location.”

First Farmers president and CEO Gene Miles said the bank recognizes the importance of occupying a significant landmark in the area and intends to highlight the cultural significance of the property.

“We’re very proud to be in this building because it has an exceptional history in our industry. The growth and expansion of our organization proves that locally based community banking can effectively serve our areas well and be successful,” Miles said.

“Placing significant facets of our organization in this particular location reflects our commitment to continuing those efforts.”