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JAMESTOWN SAVINGS IS ACQUIRED BY NORTHWEST BANCORP

New corporate backing is already fueling the growth of Jamestown Savings Bank on the Southern Tier.

Northwest Bancorp, headquartered across the border in Warren, Pa., has completed its $5.1 million acquisition for outstanding shares of Jamestown Savings Bank.

Jamestown Savings Bank has applied with state regulators to open an office in Olean, its fourth branch. The state-chartered savings bank will still operate under the Jamestown Savings Bank name, but is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Northwest Bancorp.

The deal allows Northwest to skirt banking laws that prohibit out-of-state banks from opening branches in New York.

"The profiles of the counties in the Southern Tier are very similar to the counties we serve today. We serve rural areas well and we've been doing it for 100 years," said Jim Holding, marketing manager for Northwest Savings Bank.

The Pennsylvania bank is not a stranger to the Southern Tier. The bank's lending division has been writing residential mortgages in Chautauqua County for years. Northwest was the major initial investor in the formation of Jamestown Savings Bank.

The Pennsylvania bank had already increased its stake in Jamestown Savings Bank to 64 percent before offering to buy the remaining 321,000 shares at $16 a share in June.

Northwest President and CEO John O. Hanna has replaced local resident Andrew W. Dorn Jr. as president and CEO of Jamestown Savings Bank.

Northwest Savings Bank has 69 offices in rural areas of Pennsylvania with its largest market being Erie. The bank has been on an aggressive growth curve. In addition to completing its Jamestown acquisition this summer, Northwest is also buying eight branches of National City Bank in Pennsylvania and the one-branch Corry Savings Bank in Corry, Pa.

Northwest's assets have increased by more than 15 percent, to $2.5 billion, over the last 12 months.

Following the trend of many small banks stocks this summer, Northwest Bancorp's stock has plunged on the Nasdaq Stock Market from a high of more than $18 around Memorial Day to a current value of slightly more than $12 a share.

Jamestown Savings Bank found its niche in the Chautauqua market, positioning itself as the consumer-friendly, locally-managed bank with low-fee accounts. The bank, which was the first savings bank chartered in New York state since 1967, quickly expanded to a three-branch network with deposits topping $50 million.

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