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First Community CEO tells Rotarians of bank’s progress over past two decades

At Monday’s Batesville Rotary meeting, First Community Bank’s CEO gave an overview of the financial institution’s growth and progress since its opening on Aug. 4, 1997.

Dale Cole told the civic group’s meeting at Tavolo Italian Ristorante that the bank started in Batesville at the old AP & L office on St. Louis Street with nearly $3.5 million in assets.

Counting all branches of the bank, assets now total nearly $1.9 billion with the Batesville region having over $500 million in assets, Cole said. First Community Bank is the seventh-largest bank in Arkansas.

The bank’s three-story, 43,000-SF building at St. Louis and Harrison was built in 2003. There are about 200 employees currently working there. The building can add an additional 40 percent of space on the building’s north side, said Cole.

A $28 million operations center adjoining the bank’s east side is scheduled to open in July. The center was added for First Community’s continued growth and will primarily centralize all support staff along with the mortgage, brokerage, and insurance divisions, the CEO told the group.

Cole noted one area of the state currently without a branch is northwest Arkansas. Cole said he is often asked why the bank does not have a presence in that region. He said it is a little too competitive, but the Missouri First Community branches are very close at the state line, and the bank is aiming to eventually tiptoe into the market with secondary mortgage lending.

Past due loans are squeaky clean at First Community. With $1.4 billion in loans, only .0019 percent are past due, said Cole.

Cole said the pandemic certainly affected some customers who struggled and could not make payments, but most have weathered the storm.

With 27 locations in Arkansas and Missouri combined, Cole said all branches except for Goodman, Mo., and Mountain Home started with zero assets.

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