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First Community Bank to expand

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Tabitha Eddington has worked for a bank since her high school days. “It was the perfect part time job during high school and college,” she said. “It helped me see that I wanted a career in finance.”

First Community Bank has owned property in Harrison for many years waiting for the right time to open a branch bank.

August 2019 the time was right and First Community Bank allowed Eddington to pick a team. “I’m so thankful the original five team members were willing to take a huge leap of faith with me. We had worked together in the past and are grateful to be together again.”

The original team members were all female. “Yes, we were known as the all-girl bank,” she said. “Now with Ty Rowland added to the team, we told him he should feel special.”

Eddington said she was grateful for the 73 year-old CEO, Dale Cole’s attitude. When she shared the list of team members with him, it never occurred to him that it was an all girl group until after the fact. “We’ve been around since 1997, but we are very progressive —- which is unique for the banking industry. It was just natural for both of us. That’s what I love the most. Not that we set out to build a team of all women, but it just happened. After the fact he realized and thought that was very cool. I love the fact that we don’t just say ‘we support women’ but we live it, and it’s natural. It’s not a calculated plan. It’s natural. I love that,” she said. 

First Community Bank chose Harrison because it’s a small town, but with a large service population serving many counties. “We are big enough to invest in technology and small enough to be nimble and retain that community feel. It’s great that we bank with the people we see at church, school or the grocery store. We give a little more TLC. I believe I can say that with authority. Not all banks are created equal.”

“The bank’s style is to find a strong local team and community and get out of the way,” she said. “The bank felt like Harrison could benefit from a true community bank.”

The bank’s headquarters started in Batesville. There is a similar population and demographic of business, industry and conservativeness. The bank started when a local banker was ready to move his family back to where he grew up in Texas because the bank where he worked had been acquired by a national chain. “Some local investors came to him and asked him to stay and open a true community bank. They started with three employees and now have 29 branches and close to 500 employees,” she said.

“I’m so grateful they give us the opportunity to ‘know our market’ and support our decisions. If a customer needs special assistance, we know what we can do to help, and don’t have to go higher up for a decision.”

First Community also has a kid’s savings program. Eddington enjoys helping teenagers get started with their first checking accounts. “We know our customers and can help keep a watchful eye. If something doesn’t look right, we can call right away and help.”

“First Community has great products and services to offer our customers. We are a big bank with $1.8 billion in assets, so we are able to invest in the latest technology, yet small enough to retain the feeling of a true community bank. I encourage people to give us a chance. Do something small with us and let us show you the difference,” she said.

Some of the large national banks she worked for in the past, were totally goal focused. “I spent most of my time on the team acquiring those selling goals. But at First Community, we spend our time taking care of our customers. One of our bank leaders likes to say, ‘A strong community makes a strong bank, and a strong bank makes a strong community.’ And that is so true. Community banks are a dying breed, but First Community is doing it right and doing well. Customers will notice the difference.”

Eddington said she has set goals for the bank and her team. “And we’ve exceeded all of them —  even with us just opening this downtown location in time for COVID-19. I’m so proud of our tellers for coming up with ways to do everything through the drive-thru. We will eventually have a grand opening so everyone can see the extensive remodel we did at this location.”

The First Community Bank location on Hwy. 65 North has temporarily placed an ATM close to the highway for the ease of customers and plans to begin building on the site in the fourth quarter of this year. “That ATM machine was built to move when the construction site is ready to place it in its permanent location. We are very excited to keep the downtown presence and have a branch north. We’ve had a lot of people use the ATM and glad it is convenient for them. The ATM takes deposits and allows withdrawals.”

The downtown location of Community First Bank is 220 E. Ridge and the phone number is 870-204-5600. Visit FirstCommunity.net to see all the products and services available including mobile banking and more about the partnership with P. Allen Smith for the “Bloom With Us” program. Smith offers gardening suggestions in the newsletter and designs pollinator gardens at bank locations.

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