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Local group to start new bank in Morgan, Madison counties

By Eric Fleischauer 340-2435

A trio of former AmSouth bankers will head a locally owned bank scheduled to open in Morgan and Madison counties late this year, they announced Friday.

Progress Bank and Trust will be the only state-chartered, locally owned and managed commercial bank in the two counties.

Organizers and senior management plan to contribute $4 million to the venture, with another $20 million in capitalization coming from stock subscriptions in the community. Subject to state approval, expected in March, Progress will offer stock subscriptions at $10 per share with a $10,000 minimum invest-ment.

Bruce Pylant, a 35-year AmSouth employee who last month retired as its city president, will be president of Progress Bank's Decatur market.

David Nast, with AmSouth for 26 years and most recently its regional sales director of investment services, is president and chief executive officer of Progress. Lee Hoekenschnieder was with AmSouth for 32 years. He will head the Huntsville market and general banking services for Progress.

Progress plans to open main offices in Decatur and Huntsville simultaneously, with three additional branches opening within three years. One of the branches will be in Madison.

"I think we'll be able to provide the personal service that maybe is missing from some of the other institutions," Pylant said. "All of our resources are going to be focused on our community."

Pylant said Progress's niche will be small-business and professional lending and consumer banking.

The organizing directors of Progress, from Decatur, include John C. Eyster Jr., Lawrence C. Weaver and Roger Pangle. Also on the list of organizing directors: Trey Bentley, Sheila Brown, Jim Caudle Jr., Hoekenschnieder, Bhavani Kakani, Dr. Eric Janssen, Nast and Charlie Vaughn.

Progress will have a pre-application meeting with the state Superintendent of Banking in March, a prerequisite to its capital solicitation. Before it opens, Progress will also need approval from the state Banking Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve Board.

Nast said Progress hopes to attract 350 shareholders who are representative of the entire population in the communities it will serve.

"We wanted to end our careers together," Nast said of the Progress management team, "to do something special and to give back to our community."

The announcement came the same day a mega-bank from Spain announced the planned acquisition of Birmingham-based Compass Bank, which has several branches in the Decatur area. Other recent mergers impacting the Decatur market were the AmSouth-Regions merger and the purchase of divested branches from that merger by Canada-based RBC Centura.

"Because of the large amount of outside control of banking in both counties," Pylant said, "we just feel like this is a good time to present the public with an option of dealing on a more local level."

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