MOVING UP IN DOWNTOWN
Our new home in an iconic Gainesville bank building
We are excited to announce we are moving up – and back together again – into one of Gainesville’s classic architectural landmarks, the former SunTrust building on E.E. Butler Parkway near the end of historical Green Street.
It’s been a good long ride in our beautiful headquarters at the corner of Washington and West Academy streets. However, after 17 years, we simply have outgrown the space, spreading out our operations across three sites. Now we look forward to all working together again under one roof.
Following several months of renovation, our grand reopening is planned by the end of this year.
Making a Statement
A mere four blocks away, our new location has been carefully planned and means much more than simply enhancing operations. It is a strong indicator of our successful growth into one of Georgia’s largest banks with assets of over a half-billion dollars. At the same time, our investment in downtown Gainesville sends a clear statement of our intent to remain independent as the area’s only locally owned and operated community bank.
“By moving to the busiest corridor in downtown Gainesville, we greatly expand our bank’s visibility and presence in a landmark building,” says Stewart Teaver, chairman of Peach State Bancshares, the bank’s holding company. “It clearly represents a new era for Peach State Bank.”
The 31,000 square-foot site is nearly twice as big as our current headquarters, allowing plenty of room for future expansion. More immediately, it allows us to consolidate our loan operations, private banking, customer call center, accounting and mortgage offices into a single location.
“With everything together, it will also be more convenient for customers,” says Ron Quinn, Peach State president and CEO.
Initially, we will focus interior renovations on the ground and top floors of the three-story building. Outside, we are adding more lighting and updating the landscaping. We’re also expanding the drive-through teller area and adding two Interactive Teller Machines (ITMS) for quicker service.
While we have enjoyed our current location, we will now have much more parking and greater accessibility with four separate entrances.
“In the coming months, we will work to make the transition to our new building as seamless as possible for customers,” Quinn says. “You should not experience any interruptions in service.”
We look forward to updating you on our progress along the way. Stay tuned.
LOCAL WINDOW ON THE ECONOMY
War in Ukraine Injects Pause, Uncertainty
Wild cards continue to pile up in heavyweight economy
Faced with numerous challenges since 2020, our economy has taken a bruising and fought back like a prize fighter – refusing to go down while brashly flaunting record profits across many sectors.
In early rounds, we faced off against COVID and a battered supply chain. Teetering a bit at first, we learned how to Zoom and work around our closed offices, restaurants and shops. Then came inflation in 2021 that has since rocketed higher in the first quarter of 2022. Still, we trudge on despite higher interest rates looming ahead.
In Northeast Georgia, I’ve always said we are fortunate to lead a state economy that is routinely recognized as one of the nation’s top places to do business. Even if our national economy should slow down, we are well-positioned to fare much better than the rest of the country. We’ve already proved it time after time.
However, the war in Ukraine deals a new wild card that trumps all economic spades over the last two years, including the pandemic. We’ve already witnessed the tremendous volatility in the stock markets. Investors do not like uncertainty. Neither do small business owners.
Throughout our region, I’ve begun to detect a degree of caution and pulling back on the reins in many of our businesses – indicating that the conflict in Ukraine may become one straw too many in a stretched economy, particularly if war spreads outside Eastern Europe.
In local banking, Peach State Bank and others have already tightened underwriting requirements in reaction to rising housing and construction costs that still haven’t peaked. Witnessing a resurgence in diners, restaurants are hesitant to expand or open new locations due to labor shortages that seem never-ending. On the Gainesville square and in midtown, we’ve seen these scenarios play out with tentative owners cutting back hours of operation, or as in one case, closing a restaurant within a week of its grand opening.
Avian Flu Another Wild Card
Our local poultry industry has also been under stress. Meat producers are operating at near 60 percent capacity partly due to labor shortages. Huge price hikes in corn (used in poultry feed) have added even more pressure as a result of the war in Ukraine and the Biden administration’s plans to allow higher ethanol levels in gasoline.
Here in the Poultry Capital of the World, I’ve already noticed shortages in chicken meat at local grocery stores. On one recent Sunday, I visited three grocers in search of chicken for grilling. The shelves were bare at all three.
The recent rise of Avian flu in chickens, already wiping out millions of birds across the country, is another economic crisis threatening poultry. A major outbreak here in Georgia could be devastating to our local and state economy.
In the area housing market, we’ve seen new mortgages and home refinancings finally leveling off from their torrid pace over the past year. Soaring material costs and longer build-out periods have impacted construction, while rising interest rates are making it less feasible for homeowners to restructure debt.
Meanwhile, more residents are turning to apartments in response to low inventories of available homes, especially starter homes, with higher sales tags across all residential price points. The domino effect has spilled over to pricier lease rates, making it nearly impossible to escape higher costs of living anywhere.
Of course, exorbitant fuel prices are another symptom of the Ukrainian conflict, and as the war lingers, we will surely see crop prices escalate higher as well. Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of fertilizer and grains.
Getting Priorities in Line
Whether it’s the war across the ocean or the bird flu at home, there’s not much consumers like us can do to slow or stop the economic damage. Maybe that’s why, despite sky-high energy costs, we are seeing more families taking trips to the beach and mountains – as evidenced by a huge boom in tourism in the wake of COVID.
I still believe our local economy is foundationally strong enough to withstand a recession in the near term. For now, however, we all need to focus on the things we can control, work harder, tighten our belts, and hunker down as we wait out economic conflict and a war that is so far away – yet way too close for comfort.
Tina Howe, Branch Operations Manager
Tina Howe is one our newest employees, having started in late 2021, but she has nearly 30 years of banking experience. In the brief time since she joined us, Tina says she already feels valued as part of her new Peach State family.
Tina and her husband, Redd Howe, have been married for 16 years and are a blended family. Tina’s daughter Megan Brewer, 28, is a legal operations manager at a law firm in Suwanee. Her son, Will Carter, 23, works in intelligence with the Air Force and is stationed at Cannon Air Force base in Clovis, N.M.
She has two stepsons, both of whom are captains in the Air Force: Cory Howe, 32, who lives in Little Rock, Ark., and Ryan Howe, 30, who lives in Springfield Va. Tina has one grandson, Brooks Brewer, who is 3-years old.
She enjoys vacationing at the beach and her favorite spot is Cape San Blas, Fla. Some of Tina’s hobbies are home décor, home improvement and shopping.
We are excited to welcome Tina to our Peach State team.
PEACH STATE RECEIVES NATIONAL RECOGNITION
FOR EXTRAORDINARY BANKING
Peach State Bank recently won a Banky™ Award from the Institute for Extraordinary Banking™ for our commitment to strong community banking.
In April, our CEO and President Ron Quinn and Executive Vice President Terry Baker attended the Best Banks in America™ Super Conference and seventh annual awards program in Naples, Fla. to accept the award.
The Banky Award recognizes community banks that have a commitment to the success of the local communities they serve and the small businesses they support. The Extraordinary Banking™ Awards highlight the vital role that local community banks play in our nation’s economy.
How Well Do You Know Your Downtown Gainesville History?
With all the new development and changes to downtown Gainesville, we are focusing this issue’s History Trivia on the original buildings that once occupied the Square and surrounding business district.
- Peach State Bank is currently located at the corner of Washington Street and West Academy. What was there prior to the bank?
- Our new home will be the block surrounded by Brenau Avenue, E.E. Butler Parkway, South Green Street and West Washington Street. The block has been the site of three banks and a church. Can you name them?
- The National, a live-work-play development set to open in the spring of 2023, will sit on the block where First National Bank and Regions Bank once stood. What was there before the site became a downtown financial center?
Protect Your Financial Information from Hackers
Mobile banking is safe and secure, but it is still important to take basic precautions. Whether you are messaging, banking online or posting on social media, our smartphones and computers open a lot of digital doors. So, we must be extra careful when it comes to sharing information in these digital spaces.
- First, always be suspicious of requests for personal financial information. At Peach State, we will never ask for your online banking password over the phone. And you should never respond to emails that ask for personal information such as your account numbers, PINs, Social Security numbers and passwords.
- If available, enable remote services that allow you to locate a missing device or to erase all data remotely when your phone can’t be recovered.
- Only download applications from trusted sources and keep an eye on the permission levels requested by any software.
- While free versions of antivirus programs work well, paid options have many extra valuable features. Do your research, find one that best fits your needs, and install it on all your devices.
- Remember to keep your mobile device and computer updated with the most current operating system and software.
- When you are accessing an online banking website, make sure the connection is encrypted. An indicator of a secure website is an address (also called a URL) that begins with “https” in the address bar; the “s” stands for “secure.”
- Replace your passwords with passphrases. We need our passwords to be easy to remember, yet hard to crack. Passphrases accomplish this by forming a sentence (at least 16 characters long) that is meaningful to you and only you. Obscure song lyrics or book quotes, for example, make for great passphrases.
A partner in improving community health for nearly 50 years
For nearly 50 years, Gainesville Radiology Group has been serving Northeast Georgia as the region’s largest subspecialty trained group of board-certified radiologists.
As the exclusive provider for the Northeast Georgia Health System, the practice has more than 20 fellowship-trained doctors offering diagnostic, interventional radiology, musculoskeletal imaging, advanced imaging and neuroradiology.
“We provide medical diagnosis through imaging, so our practice touches most patients who come through the hospital through either interpreting imaging or hands-on procedures,” says Dr. Trevor Hooper, who grew up in Gainesville.
Dr. Hooper returned to practice in his hometown of Gainesville in 1998 after a medical internship and five years of postgraduate training at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta and the University of Virginia respectively. However, he is not the only
Gainesville Radiology Group doctor with local ties – Dr. Lee Martin, Dr. Julie Presley, Dr. Bart Kimbrell and Dr. Joseph Whitlock grew up in Gainesville, too.
Those local connections helped draw Hooper and his practice to Peach State Bank for our hometown service. Hooper and his wife, Sheri, moved their accounts to Peach State when we first opened, followed later by the entire Gainesville Radiology Group practice.
“I liked that the people knew us when we walked through the door,” Hooper says. “It’s local people you know and have known for a number of years, that gives you the ability to pick up the phone and call someone there for personal service.”
When his practice was looking to change banks, Hooper encouraged his colleagues to move to Peach State for the same special attention. “It’s been a good move for our practice.”
Likewise, Gainesville Radiology Group has been a good partner for the overall health of our community. We appreciate their work and are proud to be their financial partner.
Annual BLT Luncheon and Peach Bake Return this Summer
Our long-running BLT Luncheon in honor of Gainesville business legend Jack McKibbon is set to return this summer on Wednesday, Aug. 3rd at our Washington Street headquarters.
Over 800 people enjoyed the tasty event last year, lunching on juicy Bacon Lettuce & Tomato sandwiches, sampling desserts from a first-time Peach Bake competition, and seeing a vintage car display. This will likely be the last big event at our present headquarters (see the Page 1 story about our move), so be sure to mark your calendar.
The Jack McKibbon BLT Luncheon is a Gainesville tradition going back more than 20 years. McKibbon and buddies Howard Whelchel, Lee Martin, Brent Danneman, Howard Page, Joe Wyant and George Seelke originally started the yearly event as a friends get-together. It nearly ended before we offered to start hosting in 2017.
Last year, our first Peach Bake drew more than 20 entries from talented bakers who created delicious made-from-scratch peach pies, cobblers and cakes. Shelia Bryant was last year’s winner. If you are interested in showing off your own special dessert-making skills, please contact Susan Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to biting into juicy BLTs and dabbing our lips alongside fellow tomato lovers at this much anticipated summertime Southern feast.
First Presbyterian Church once was on the corner of Brenau Ave. and Green St.
- Dixie Tire Co. occupied the corner for 38 years until Oct. 1, 2004. Prior to Dixie Tire, an A&P grocery was there.
- The three banks were SunTrust, Home Federal Savings & Loan, and First National. Before them, First Presbyterian Church was built on the site in 1904. First National Bank moved there in the 1950s before relocating across Washington Street to where The National is currently under construction. Home Federal moved to the former church site after First National left.
- First Baptist Church, built in 1909, called this Green Street address its home until 1960, when it was destroyed in a fire. Afterward, a Southern Bell telephone exchange building occupied a portion of the lot before First National eventually relocated there.
325 Washington St SW | Gainesville, GA 30501 | Phone: (770) 536-1100 | Fax: (770) 536-2525