After a lengthy search and planning process, Community Bank System finally has a new loan and mortgage operations center in Cattaraugus County.
The DeWitt-based bank, which has a regional hub in Olean, this month moved into a newly built location in the Town of Allegany, across from St. Bonaventure University’s campus.
“We confirmed our commitment to the area,” said Brian Donahue, executive vice president and chief banking officer.
Community Bank initially planned to open the center in a different place. In early 2013, the bank was ready to buy a vacant former elementary school in Olean. But the bank scrapped that plan a few months later, after deciding the costs far exceeded expectations, and that space for future growth there was insufficient. Its search continued, and about a year ago, Community Bank bought a 10-acre site on Route 417.
About 100 employees are working in the new center, Donahue said. Allegany-based general contractor Duggan and Duggan oversaw the project.
Donahue said the center was built with expansion in mind. It has room for additional employees, if more are hired, and the facility could be added on to, should that become necessary.
In addition to the new center on Route 417, Community Bank has offices on North Union Street in Olean, where about 90 employees work. The bank is still deciding what to do with office space on Park Street that employees moved out of, Donahue said.
Employees moved into the new location a couple of weekends ago, amid frigid weather. “We did not interrupt business,” Donahue said.
The Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency says total investment in the new center, plus upgrades to the North Union Street location, adds up to $6 million. The CCIDA last year approved a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement to support the project, along with a sales tax abatement estimated at $300,000 for related furnishings, fixtures and materials.
Corey Witkor, executive director of the CCIDA, praised the bank’s management and board for sticking with the Olean area for the back-office project after the initial plan fell through, noting that the Pennsylvania border is only about 10 miles away. “These types of jobs really, really have an impact on our economy,” Witkor said.
The project solidifies Community Bank’s connection to the area and provides new life for the idle property across from St. Bonaventure, he said.
Community Bank has a relatively small presence in the Buffalo Niagara region. It ranked No. 12 in market share based on the most recent data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and has four locations in Erie County. But the bank has branches around New York state and Pennsylvania, and is a growing institution.
February turned out to be a memorable month for the bank. On Tuesday, Community Bank announced plans to acquire Oneida Financial Corp., the parent company of Oneida Savings Bank, for $142 million in stock and cash. The merged bank is expected to rank No. 4 in market share in the Syracuse metro area.