- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Community banks in Maine are seeing a spike in commercial lending activity as businesses owners turn from big banks to local ones.

The Portland Press Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1MXFZRk ) that an analysis of banking data shows a flurry of loan activity at community banks due to business expansions and real estate investments.

The newspaper found the total value of loans issued by community banks for nonresidential properties increased 13 percent to $4.54 billion during the two-year period ending Dec. 31.

Commercial loans for equipment purchases and other business expenses increased 19 percent to $1.48 billion.

At Maine’s 28 community banks, nonresidential real estate loans are up more than 70 percent since the beginning of the recession in 2008 - nearly twice the growth rate of similar loans at all banks nationwide.

“There was this whole flight to community banks,” said Bob Montgomery-Rice, president of Bangor Savings Bank.

Bryon Tait, owner of Casco Bay Steel Structures in South Portland, is in the midst of a multi-million dollar upgrade. He said he switched from a major national bank to Bangor Savings eight years ago.

“We went with a community bank because they made life a lot easier,” he said. He said he gets to work with the same loan officer for all his business borrowing and has lines of credit his operating costs and commercial investments.

“Last year, we bought almost $3 million worth of equipment,” said Tait, adding the credit lines have enabled him to expand his product line and increase productivity.

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