Magazine article American Banker

A Virginia Start-Up Is Hoping Local Angle Will Sell in Roanoke

Magazine article American Banker

A Virginia Start-Up Is Hoping Local Angle Will Sell in Roanoke

Article excerpt

A community bank start-up intends to crack a southwestern Virginia market dominated by out-of-town bank goliaths.

The Valley Bank plans to open in Roanoke by the second quarter of 1995 with two offices, four employees, and about $10 million capital.

Despite the presence of NationsBank Corp., First Union Corp., Crestar Financial Corp., and other heavy-hitters in the county and independent city of Roanoke - which together have about 200,000 residents - the new bank organizers believe the lack of a hometown bank justifies their venture.

"The big boys are here and have market share, but everyone is from out of town or out of state," said Wayne Lewis, Valley's chief operating officer.

"When Dominion was taken over by First Union, we felt there was a real void and a significant opportunity here."

The takeover of Dominion Bankshares by First Union in March 1993 not only eliminated the last native Roanoke bank but it also freed up Mr. Lewis to pursue this project.

Mr. Lewis worked for 31 years at Dominion, most recently as executive vice president and corporate secretary, until the First Union takeover eliminated his job in July of 1993.

"This is not generally an environment where you expect to see a whole lot of start-ups, but Roanoke could be different," said David Stumph, a banking analyst at Wheat First Butcher Singer in Richmond.

"Their market has gone through significant consolidation and has lost all of its hometown players. There usually is a need for a hometown bank, so they [Valley] could do real well. …

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