By Derby Jones, Publisher
The commitment to accelerate FirstBank’s investment in Middle Tennessee was realized in Franklin this week when Gordon Inman, Middle Tennessee regional board chairman, joined FirstBank Chairman Jim Ayers and civic leaders to unveil the financial institution’s Five Points’ Post Office redesign.
Gordon Inman, FirstBank Middle Tennessee Board Chairman, left, Franklin Mayor Ken Moore, and Heritage Foundation Executive Director Mary Pearce take a break after a press conference held Tuesday afternoon at Five Points Post Office. A gathering of bank executives, city and civic leaders was held to unveil plans for FirstBank’s new office inside the historic downtown building.
Photo by Brandy Blanton
A spring 2014 grand opening is expected for the Five Points’ FirstBank.
“We are humbled by our ability to come to downtown Franklin in an historic site,” Ayers noted at the Tuesday event.
“The main message I want to get across is community. We call ourselves the leader in community banking, and this is a community we dearly want to be involved in.”
Inman, a veteran Middle Tennessee banker and business leader, greeted Mayor Ken Moore and Heritage Foundation Executive Director Mary Pearce on the steps of the historic building where Williamson Countians have been coming since the post office was constructed in 1924.
Establishing a financial institution at this anchor property of Five Points is due to the collaborative efforts of the city, FirstBank and the Heritage Foundation.
The satisfaction of all parties was evident, as renovation plans were made public for the first time Monday.
“We are excited to have this opportunity to work with FirstBank,” said Mayor Moore. “This is a process that really started twenty-five years ago with the revitalization of downtown, then streetscape, and now the Columbia Avenue corridor.”
The downtown location will be a unique experience for banking customers, who will encounter history as they take care of their financial matters in a pedestrian friendly environment.
Ayers is a prominent Lexington, Tennessee entrepreneur, who is the sole owner of FirstBank. There are currently 57 banking locations, three of which are in Williamson County.
Also present at the unveiling was Chris Holmes, FirstBank President and CEO. Williamson County is part of a six-county region of this statewide bank. In addition to Williamson, the Middle Tennessee region includes Davidson, Cannon, Dickson, Rutherford, and Wilson counties.
Inman and FirstBank executive Ed Cagle were recognized for their vision and diligence in bringing the bank to Five Points.
“When Gordon came by to discuss the bank, I told him we would have to keep the post office as part of the deal, Pearce said. “We had a war to get this post office in downtown Franklin 20 years ago. Today, cities across the nation are fighting for downtown post offices. This is a national success story.”
Pearce noted that with the bank’s purchase of the Five Points building, the Heritage Foundation was without a home.
The organization recently purchased city property on Bridge Street that is popularly known as the “old, old jail.” The transaction was $25,000.
Current plans for the new Heritage Foundation offices include a major renovation of the building, which has not been utilized for more than thirty years.
Pearce announced that FirstBank has pledged a $150,000 donation toward the property’s renovation if the organization can match it.
“We will need to raise a million dollars to bring the building up to code,” Pearce said.
Holmes, President and CEO of FirstBank also emphasized the bank’s strong community minded focus.
“We appreciate the heritage. Our bank is 107 years old, and we pride ourselves on heritage and community,” Holmes said.
At the end of the ceremony, Ayers asked if anyone in attendance was from Decatur County.
Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long stepped forward to shake his old friend’s hand and share in a good laugh.
“We grew up together, “Ayers said of Long. “This county is in great shape with Sheriff Long. He is a fine citizen and sheriff, and I am proud to say he is from my hometown of Parsons.”
In addition to Inman, Williamson County residents who have a presence on the bank’s regional board of directors include Orrin Ingram. Stuart C. McWhorter, whose Brentwood company has a long presence in the county, is also a regional board member.
FirstBank is the largest independently owned bank in Tennessee with $2 billion in assets. Originally established in West Tennessee, FirstBank is based in Lexington, Tenn.
Posted on: 9/18/2013