South Louisiana Bank, a Houma-based community bank, has started work on its first Baton Rouge location and expects to have it open by Thanksgiving.
That’s a year after South Louisiana Bank bought the former Hancock Whitney branch near the intersection of Highland Road and Lee Drive. The bank paid $500,000 for the building at 5379 Highland. Interior work started Monday on the building.
Steve Crispino, executive vice president for South Louisiana Bank, said the bank had been looking at entering the Baton Rouge market for years. A number of the bank’s customers have held on to their accounts after they moved to attend LSU, so there’s a customer base already.
“This was the next logical location,” he said. “We’re excited about it. We’ve been thinking about entering the Baton Rouge market for years.”
Buying the high-profile Highland Road property was a way of letting the public know that South Louisiana Bank was serious about Baton Rouge, Crispino said.
South Louisiana Bank was founded in 1980 and has seven full-service locations in Houma, Thibodaux and Bourg. The bank also operates a loan production office in Lafayette. As of June 2019, the bank had $412 million in deposits.
There's no shortage of banks in Baton Rouge, but Crispino said he sees a niche for South Louisiana Bank, thanks to the existing customers already in the market and the services it offers, including online banking.
“There’s no way we can come in and take the Baton Rouge market by storm, but we plan to offer the same thing we do in Houma,” Crispino said, “a community bank, operating under community bank principles.”
Plans are to have six people working at the branch.
While South Louisiana Bank has no specific plans to open more locations in Baton Rouge, Crispino said he would love for the branch to do well enough that expanding makes sense. “We have a responsibility to our shareholders, but we want to serve the market and stand ready to do so.”