Business update: First Financial, McGladrey, USDA offices

Business update: First Financial, McGladrey, USDA offices

A roundup of recent business news:

First Financial deal for Freestar finalized

CHAMPAIGN — First Financial Corp. has completed its acquisition of Freestar Bank, and Freestar's 13 offices are now branches of First Financial Bank.

David Kuhl, formerly Freestar's chairman and CEO and now First Financial's West Region president, said the acquisition came about quickly, with the agreement signed Oct. 11, 2011, and completed Dec. 30, 2011.

Customers won't notice many changes, Kuhl said.

"They'll still be able to use their checks, debit cards and everything else," he said. "The computer systems won't merge until mid-April to mid-May, and we'll probably see changes in the format of checking account statements to match up with First Financial's."

Kuhl said bank lending limits will expand as a result of becoming part of First Financial.

The internal lending limit is $20 million, compared with Freestar's former limit of $4.5 million, he said. But loans larger than the internal lending limit can be made if approved by the board of directors, he added.

"Most of the employees are still at the same desks and locations, and there are minor modifications to some titles," Kuhl said.

A few employees, most of whom were not in direct contact with customers, left before the acquisition occurred, as a result of the consolidation of back-room operations, he said.

As a result of the acquisition, Terre Haute, Ind.-based First Financial added Illinois banking offices in Champaign, Urbana, Mahomet, Bloomington, Pontiac, Downs and Gridley.

McGladrey acquisition complete

MILWAUKEE — McGladrey & Pullen has completed the acquisition of RSM McGladrey from H&R Block and is returning to a traditional partner-owned CPA firm structure.

In the past 18 months, McGladrey has opened a national tax office in Washington, D.C., realigned its business consulting services and opened international service desks to support both domestic and foreign clients.

Illinois offices escape USDA cuts

WASHINGTON — Illinois largely escaped the office cuts announced this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday that the department plans to close 259 offices, facilities and labs, as well as seven foreign offices. Those included:

— 131 county offices of the Farm Service Agency.

— 43 area and sub offices of Rural Development.

— 24 soil survey offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

— Five district offices of the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

— Programs at 10 locations of the Agricultural Research Service.

— 15 offices of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

— 31 field offices of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.

The only Illinois office affected was a Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services field office in Chicago.

Indiana fared worse, losing three Farm Service Agency offices; four Rural Development offices; a Natural Resources Conservation Service; and two Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service offices.

Indiana fared worse, losing three Farm Service Agency offices in Lake, Morgan and St. Joseph counties; four Rural Development offices in LaPorte, Marshall, Monroe and Tippecanoe counties; a Natural Resources Conservation Service in Marshall County; and two Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service offices in Indianapolis and West Lafayette.

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