Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 19, 2013

A decade of growth at local bank

Community First remains homegrown

— A little more than a decade ago a group of civic and business leaders decided to take the risk to create a bank centered around Howard County, that’s how Community First became a reality.

The bank opened for business in downtown Kokomo on Feb. 3, 2003 and since that time has added two more branches.

Mike Stegall, president and CEO of Community First, said the bank started with assets of $12.5 million and 16 employees and today has assets of $190 million and has grown to 45 employees with an annual payroll of $2.5 million.

Back in 2003 Stegall was president of the First National Bank and was reasonably sure the bank was going to be sold to another financial group.

“I knew there would be an opening for a community bank,” he said. “At the time, First National was the community bank for Kokomo. Community First would become the 13th bank in the community.”

Stegall enlisted the help of 15 other local civic leaders and began the process of forming the bank.

“I wanted a commitment of enough money to form a good foundation,” he said. “Those first investors became the board of directors. I wanted solid members to guide the bank.”

The effort first started with the forming of Community First Mortgage to begin the groundwork for opening of a locally-owned bank.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. indicated that to start the bank it would require $10 million in assets and up to $1 million to get organized.

Stegall said the board of directors provided half of the assets and the bank was able to raise $12.5 million without any outside help.

“Our model was good,” he said. “We were able to attract clients from First National and when it was sold to Harris Bank, that was our big growth spurt.”

Stegall said most of the stock in Community First is retained by Howard County residents and all the decisions are make in Kokomo.

“Our plan is to not expand outside of Howard County,” he said. “As Howard County goes, Community First goes.”

Although there are no future plans, Stegall said there has been discussions about opening branches in Greentown and Russiaville.

“We’re content with the three locations,” he said. “Virtually all our customers are Howard County residents. We do have some loans outside of Howard County to diversify our portfolio.”

A trend in Indiana and the U.S. over the past few decades has been that locally-owned banks are eventually purchased by national banking companies.

“We’ve had a few inquiries,” Stegall said, “but no firm offers.”

During the tough economic times in Kokomo from 2008 through 2010, the board discussed the idea of selling the bank, he said.

“We thought it was worth maintaining the bank in Howard County,” Stegall said. “It was determined to take the risk that the local economy would bounce back.”

The bank has turned a profit every year except for the first and won’t grow by another $200 million in assets over the next decade, he said. The bank expects a growth rate per year of 3 to 5 percent.

Community First will continue to promote the Kokomo and Howard County community, he said.

“We will do everything we can to help keep Kokomo vibrant,” Stegall said. “We’re willing to take some risks if it benefits the community.”

Stegall said when the bank started he pledged to remain as CEO for ten years. He plans to remain in his current position through 2014 and possibly 2015.

“I will stay on the Board of Directors,” he said. “I’m starting to delegate more responsibilities. Almost all my assets are in the bank, so I have a vested interest in it.”

One of the prime movers in the creation of the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, Stegall said he will remain active with the group in the future.

“I love this community,” he said.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Residents organize outreach for fire victims Josh and Courtney Justice lost everything they owned Tuesday afternoon after a fire ravaged their home in Indian Heights. The community has been reaching out to help replace some of what was destroyed. Just hours after the blaze displaced the Justice

    July 23, 2014

  • Kokomo Airport runway extension nearing completion After more than a decade of waiting, a runway extension project that will allow the Kokomo Municipal Airport to attract new business will soon be prepared for takeoff. The project, which will extend the airport’s main runway from 5,200 feet to 6,000

    July 23, 2014

  • Man jailed on sex charge Kokomo police arrested a 20-year-old man Tuesday afternoon on a warrant charging him with sexual misconduct with a minor involving a 14-year-old. Officers arrested Malachi Ely at 4:38 p.m. at his residence in the 500 block of South Goyer Road on the

    July 23, 2014

  • Indiana Veterans Hall of Fame seeks nominations INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new hall of fame for Indiana military veterans is seeking nominations for its first class of inductees. The Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame says it expects to induct the first honorees around Veterans Day at Fort Benjamin

    July 23, 2014

  • Lawmakers approve pair of new license plates INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A panel of state lawmakers approved new license plates recognizing the Indy 500 and Abraham Lincoln under a new system clamping down on the number of special license plates on the road. Members of the Legislature's transportation

    July 23, 2014

  • Ivy Tech job fair Jobs for the future With an aging workforce, Duke Energy Corp. finds itself in a precarious position.The primary electrical power provider for Kokomo and adjacent counties, Duke Energy is the first line of defense when residents are left in the dark after storms and oth

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - KT072214 - Ryan Ledbetter mugshot - CLG Bunker Hill councilman Ryan Ledbetter arrested for firing gun

    BUNKER HILL — A member of the Bunker Hill Town Council was arrested Saturday after police say he broke a no-contact order with his children’s mother and fired a gun inside a trailer park near Peru.Indiana State Police responded to the Woodland Hill t

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indian Heights fire 01 [Duplicate] Fire engulfs Indian Heights home

    Josh Justice left his house and went to get a haircut Tuesday afternoon. When he came back, his house was destroyed. Firefighters said it was likely a propane-tank explosion inside an RV parked beside his house that caused severe fire damage to Justi

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Apollo 11 program at library Kokomo High School graduates Greg McCauley and Dave Hudson will present a 60-minute, graphic-rich multimedia lecture called Earth to the Moon: Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of Apollo 11 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The lecture will be at the

    July 22, 2014

  • NWS - KT072314 - Kareen Dunn Kareen Dunn sentenced to 18 years for non-fatal shooting A Kokomo man charged in a 2012 shooting on East Mulberry Street pleaded guilty to an aggravated battery charge and was sentenced last week to 18 years. After accepting the guilty plea of Kareen Dunn, Howard Superior Court 4 Judge George Hopkins sente

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.