hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


August 23, 2012

Editorial: New bank branches a vote of confidence in local economy

In the last year, starting with the third quarter of 2011, U.S. banks opened 1,234 branches and closed 2,001, for a net loss of 767.

That’s according to a report by SNL Financial LC, based in Charlottesville, Va.

Massachusetts had a net loss of eight bank branches, while closings and openings were a wash in New Hampshire.

In Haverhill and vicinity, however, the picture is different, as local banks compete for customers by opening new branches.

It started in January, when Haverhill Bank added a new branch by way of a merger with Economy Co-operative Bank of Merrimac, whose single office is now operating under the Haverhill Bank flag.

Haverhill-based Pentucket Bank announced last month it is seeking approval to open its sixth branch at Butcher Boy Plaza in North Andover. The location at the crossroads of Routes 125 and 133 will be especially convenient for customers from Bradford, North Andover, Andover and Boxford. Pentucket opened its fifth branch a year ago on Lincoln Avenue in Haverhill.

“It is encouraging to see a Haverhill-based business growing beyond our city borders,” Sven Amirian, president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, said. (See story on page one.) “It is a clear message that Haverhill has the capacity to incubate businesses and support regional, statewide and even national expansion.” Pentucket already has two branches in New Hampshire, in Salem and Hampstead.

Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank meanwhile, is planing to open its 16th branch about a mile south of Pentucket’s chosen site, also on busy Route 125 in North Andover.

Finally, Enterprise Bank, also based in Lowell, has announced it will open a branch not far away, in Sal Lupoli’s Riverwalk, on Merrimack Street in Lawrence near the North Andover line.

These are all solid local institutions with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. The Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank was founded in 1854. Haverhill Bank dates to 1877 and Pentucket to 1891. Enterprise is the relative newcomer, founded in 1989.

Their investment in new branches is a welcome sign of confidence in the future of the local economy.

It’s also good news for consumers as competition means more options and better service.

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