A lender that moved its corporate offices from Marlboro County to downtown Charleston in 2018 is advancing its plan to fan out into the Lowcountry suburbs.
First Capital Bank is aiming to start making loans and taking deposits in Mount Pleasant by the end of the first quarter next year. It previously opened a branch on South Cedar Street in Summerville in mid-2019.
"We're selling local, local, local," said Joe Kassim, president and chief operating officer, who noted that he and several other First Capital staffers grew up and live in the East Cooper area.
"Were hoping for big things for that market," he said.
Mount Pleasant's population has clocked a 34 percent growth rate over the past decade, and its median household income was nearly $97,200 in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"The demographic numbers are very appealing there," Kassim said.
Bigger lenders also have taken note of the town's financial attributes, with several of them adding branches in Mount Pleasant. They include Chase, FNB and TD Bank.
"It is a competitive market," Kassim said.
First Capital's future East Cooper outpost will be at 2191 U.S. Highway 17, near Six Mile Road and a Harris Teeter-anchored shopping center. The commercial real estate firm NAI Charleston announced this week that the bank recently bought the building, which formerly housed an insurance business. The sale totaled $1.5 million, according to county land records.
Kassim said First Capital is a traditional community lender that caters to small business owners and retail customers "looking for a more personal touch."
The bank, he added, didn't hesitate about beefing up its Charleston footprint even with the uncertain outlook driven by the coronavirus pandemic. It's now actively looking for a West Ashley location to expand its coverage area.
"I do think with COVID-19 and the economy, a lot of banks are pulling back, but we're moving forward," he said. "We're still very bullish long-term about the area. We feel Charleston is a little more insulated compared to other areas of the country with the diverse mix of businesses here."
First Capital entered the local banking market in an unusual way.
After operating for nearly two decades along the South Carolina-North Carolina border near Bennettsville and Laurinburg, it was looking for a way to expand into a higher-growth market and set up a succession plan for its longtime CEO and co-founder, who was approaching retirement.
A group of investors that included former executives of Charleston's recently sold CresCom Bank raised $30 million, reconstituted the board and moved the holding company to 304 Meeting St., just south of Marion Square. The lending subsidiary, which is chartered in North Carolina, opened its first local branch in the downtown building in 2018.