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|Bank officials express confidence in north Louisiana's future|
No matter how large Community Trust Bank grows in the future, its focus will remain on people and providing a "small bank" experience for its customers.
That's what the men who call the shots at Community Trust said when discussing CTB's recent expansions and plans for the future. Those CTB officials included John Emory, chairman of the board of directors; Drake Mills, chief executive officer; Ronnie Myrick, chairman of the bank; and Van Pardue, market president for CTB in northeast Louisiana. .
Over the next several years, Mills expects CTB to grow along the Interstate 20 corridor. He said CTB could become "potentially a $3-billion bank."
CTB is the largest independently owned bank in north Louisiana, and one of the top five independently owned banks in the state, according to Myrick.
The bank was first organized in 1912 as the Bank of Choudrant. It now has 17 banking centers located in Lincoln, Morehouse, Ouachita and Union parishes.
CTB also is in the process of establishing a presence in Dallas, Texas, while plans are in the works to enter the Shreveport/Bossier City market in the near future.
Emory joined the Bank of Choudrant in 1973. He's amazed with the bank's growth and success over the years and excited about the bank's potential.
"We've come a long way from the Bank of Choudrant, but we'll still have community type banking no matter what size we get," Emory said. "One of the big things that has made this successful is that we continue to provide service as though we're a small bank."
Emory said the bank has been in capable hands since its inception, and now with Mills' vision, he believes CTB's growth is unlimited.
Mills worked his way up through the ranks at CTB. His vision for growth for the bank entails moving east and west along Interstate 20.
"It was quickly evident that he was going to take us far places, but I didn't have any idea he would take us all the way to Dallas," Emory said of Mills.
Mills added, "Our move to Dallas obviously leap-frogged some communities that we should be involved in, and we will become involved in."
One of these communities is the Shreveport/Bossier City area. By the end of next year, Mills expects CTB to be operating in the Shreveport/Bossier City market. The plan is to develop locations in communities stretching to Dallas to take full advantage of the I-20 market.
Yet, there's a reason CTB officials are working at growing the bank. They see north Louisiana's economy taking off over the next several years because of opportunities fueled by the Air Force Cyber Command in Shreveport, the presence of three major universities and the potential for business and industry to locate at Richland Parish's mega site, The former Guide Plant in Monroe is in the mix, too.
"We're primed and ready and what a good time to be in this position with all that's going on in north Louisiana," Mills said. "This is incredible, with Haynesville shale, Cyber Command, what ULM and Louisiana Tech's doing … those all create quality of life opportunities for us to expand and grow.
"I look at our future as one with a higher payroll, better quality of life and services that generate tremendous revenues. We feel like we're a major player in the development and direction of these communities we serve, and for us to be successful, these communities have to be successful."
While CTB has plans to move further west in different markets, bank officials believe CTB has opportunities available to it in Ouachita and Morehouse parishes.
"For the next couple of years, we do feel like the growth in Morehouse and Ouachita parishes, and what we can provide to those economies, are our greatest opportunities," Mills said. "We're sitting here trying to get Dallas up and running, but it's not going to be at the expense of Ouachita and Morehouse."
Mills credits CTB's success to its small, community bank philosophy as well as having a management team and dedicated employees who've steered the bank in the right direction.
"Community Trust Bank stands for a banking organization that's committed to maintaining a community bank atmosphere and service through delivery channels focused through people," he said. "We're going to make sure that no matter what we do, no matter what size we become, when you walk into a Community Trust Bank, you feel it is a small bank. That's very important for us to maintain a small bank influence on the communities we are a part of."
"We're not going to change just because we're getting larger," Mills added.
Pardue, who recently went to work at CTB, said the bank has enjoyed success through the years because of its people-friendly attitude and manner in which it conducts business.
"For me a community bank's value is it's people-oriented on the delivery side and on the receiving side," Pardue said. "Our focus is people-to-people business, and I think that's a distinguishing characteristic of community banks over some of the larger bank's strategies."