Regions to close bank branch

Published 6:34 pm Friday, October 23, 2009

On Tuesday, Regions Bank announced they will be consolidating 121 bank branches, including those in Bainbridge.

As a result, the Shotwell Street branch will be closing.

According to Regions spokeswoman Evelyn Mitchell from the headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., one reason for the consolidations is “for the convenience of our customers.” She said the branches they are closing were chosen based on age, the amenities they offer and the proximity to other branches.

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Mitchell said the decision to close the Shotwell Street location stemmed from the fact that the two branches were too close in location, and the option of telephone banking seemed to eradicate the need for the second branch.

The Regions Bank on the square in Bainbridge originated as The Citizens Bank & Trust Company in 1911, and over a period of years it has gone through a series of acquisitions starting with the First State Bank & Trust Company, followed by AmSouth, which merged and became the current Regions Bank. In 1989, Regions decided to expand and open a branch on Shotwell Street.

The decision to close the Shotwell Street branch and merge it with the West Street location may mean that a few people could lose their jobs.

Currently the branches have approximately eight employees each. Mitchell assures that every effort will be made to assist the employees in relocating to other branches in the area. Some of the closest branches are in Tallahassee, Blountstown and Marianna, Fla.; Albany, Ga., and Dothan, Ala.

The closing of the branches will not go into effect until Jan. 29, 2010. All customers will be receiving a letter in the mail soon, letting them know of the consolidation and that their accounts will be transferred to the West Street location.

Many banks across the country have had to cut their costs because of the crisis that began one year ago, due in large part to the real estate mortgage market.

While Mitchell stated that the consolidation was for the convenience of the customers, the third quarter financial report as published on Regions’ Web site cites that the reasons are more to do with bad mortgage loans. During the third quarter of 2009, Regions suffered a loss of $437 million caused primarily by real estate market loan losses.

According to Regions’ Web site, the bank wants to reassure all customers that the bank is financially sound, and the planned restructuring will ensure future growth and stability.