CHAMPAIGN – The already-crowded banking market in Champaign-Urbana could soon get another entrant.
W. Eric Volkmann, president and chief executive officer of Edgar County Bank & Trust, said the bank would like to open a full-service facility in Champaign in 2008.
He confirmed the bank has expressed interest in acquiring the Marathon station at Prospect and Kirby avenues, but said the project is in the very early stages.
Roger Distler, president of SJC Inc., which operates the Marathon station, said several parties – including the bank – have expressed interest in the property.
"At this point, we plan to continue to operate as a convenience store and gas station," he said. "We spent a lot on that building and have a hefty investment in the property."
Distler said SJC leases the property and has an option to buy, which it would like to exercise.
Volkmann said Edgar County Bank & Trust has already hired some people from the Champaign-Urbana area and is eager to capture "some of the market share displaced by the Main Street (Bank & Trust) and Busey (Bank) merger."
If the bank proves successful in acquiring the Prospect and Kirby location, it would position itself in the thick of the fray.
The property is immediately east of the Busey Bank office branch at 909 W. Kirby Ave., C, and not far north of the Main Street branch at 1611 S. Prospect Ave., C.
Main Street is divesting itself of that branch as a result of the merger, and the branch is becoming an office of Freestar Bank office.
Volkmann, who once worked for Kankakee Federal Savings Bank in Champaign-Urbana and whose family operated Volkmann's Jewelers in Urbana, said the Champaign County market is attractive to lenders.
"It's just a comfortable community with a great deal of strength, and all of us in outlying areas want to have a piece of the market share," he said. "It's very competitive, very crowded, but a great market to be in."
He said his bank already gets about $35 million of business from the Champaign County market. In fact, Edgar County Bank & Trust already has an automated teller machine at 1601 S. Prospect Ave., where the Marathon station is located.
Edgar County Bank & Trust has full-service facilities in Paris, Kansas, Ashmore and Brocton. It recently opened a loan production office in Terre Haute, Ind., that goes under the name ECB Terre Haute.
Volkmann said the bank likely will use a name other than Edgar County Bank & Trust in the Champaign County market. But he said he doesn't know at this point what name will be used.