Hamilton State Bancshares Inc. acquired Cherokee Bank in August 2013, combining the two under the Hamilton State Bank brand.
Dennis Burnette, previously the president of Cherokee Bank, now acts as the Hamilton State Bank chairman for Cherokee County, and said customers will get the same quality service they signed up for with Cherokee Bank.
“We’re merging with a strong community bank that has the same values we do, from a personal service standpoint,” he said. “The biggest thing that we have to lose is our name.”
Burnette said, while service and personnel will remain familiar to customers of the bank, the name change is a big deal to many who live in the county.
“It’s important to a lot of people to have a small bank headquartered here, and to have the name ‘Cherokee Bank,’ but when you look at the overall picture it’s a small price to pay in order to be able to provide the products, services and larger lending limits,” Burnette said. “People can use their same checks, their same debit card … the main change is the name.”
Bob Oliver, chairman and CEO of Hamilton State Bank, said the company is pleased to be part of Cherokee County.
“It is business as usual. The customers of both banks will see the same friendly faces and receive the same high level of service they’ve come to expect. Product and service enhancements will be introduced as we complete our systems conversion scheduled in May,” Oliver said.
Burnette said the merge with Hamilton will allow the bank to make bigger loans and help the local economy.
“In Cherokee County, as we leave the recessionary period, we see the economy getting back to a growth mode,” he said.
Burnette said Cherokee Bank didn’t have enough extra capital to make all the loans it would’ve liked to, but under the new company the bank will be able to contribute more to local development.
“Hamilton is one of the most highly capitalized banks in the state of Georgia,” Burnette said. “As a result of having that capital, we’ll be able to make a much larger loan. We could only make a loan of about a million, and we’ll be able to go up to $10 million as a part of Hamilton Bank.”
Hamilton State Bank has about $1.7 billion in total assets, $1.4 billion in deposits, and $284 million in total capital, Oliver said.
Cherokee Bank is Hamilton State Bank’s fifth acquisition in the past 34 months. Hamilton operates 27 branches in Barrow, Bartow, Butts, Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas, Hall, Henry, Forsyth, Jasper, Jackson and Paulding counties. Oliver said the bank focuses on conservative and sound banking practices.