Savings bank

Ag Lending attracts Wayne Savings Bank to Columbiana County Business Journal Daily

WASHINGTONVILLE, Ohio — It wasn’t the booming real estate market that initially drew the area’s newest bank to Columbiana County.

Instead, it’s the fertile soil and farming community that area farmers depend on that attracted the Wayne Savings Community Bank, said board executive chairman Mark Witmer.

“Wooster, where our headquarters is, is a small town and most of our offices — in places like Ashland and Rittman — are in smaller towns and those with significant agricultural activity,” he says. . “If you look at our footprint in Wayne County, Stark County, Holmes County, and Ashland County, Columbiana County borders Stark and it fits really well. We look to cities that have a similar cultural atmosphere with an agricultural base. »

At 795 W. Main St. in Washingtonville, the branch is on the main corridor between Salem and Columbiana. Driving between the two towns, you’ll pass many businesses that would fall under Wayne Savings’ target industry – farmers markets, a butcher, farm equipment retailers, a milking equipment manufacturer and more.

“We’re looking for traffic and convenience. Really, it was dependent on the availability of an office there that allows us to cover both communities of Columbiana and Salem,” Witmer says of the office on State Road 14. “Those are two towns that we believe , have a lot of potential and with an office in the middle, it really saves us having two offices.

While Wayne Savings is involved in a wide range of commercial loans, which also caught the bank’s attention in the Youngstown market, its expertise lies in agricultural finance. The team the bank has assembled has it in spades, Witmer says, including his more than 40 years in the business, most recently as director of banking services at Farmers National Bank. At the Washingtonville branch, commercial lender Jim Rhodes has similar experience, while branch manager Jesse Dailey also has experience.

“There are very few banks that have that expertise and want to be in agricultural lending,” Witmer says. “Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, when agricultural commodity prices were high, we saw other banks trying to enter this arena. But it is a risky area because agriculture itself is risky. There are weather and commodity prices and many other reasons that affect it and make it successful.

The Washingtonville branch will be Wayne Savings Community Bank’s 12th location and the first time the institution has expanded eastward beyond North Canton. And already, discussions are underway to further increase the bank’s presence in the Mahoning Valley.

“Even though we only opened for a few weeks in Washingtonville and Jim Rhodes became a loaner a few months ago, we’ve had great success,” Witmer says. “Knowing that and having our plan from the beginning to open one or two offices a year, I expect that in 2022 we will expand.”

Wayne Savings Community Bank was founded in 1899. At the end of the second quarter, it had assets of $628.7 million and net loans receivable of $417.5 million. It has branches in Ashland, Creston, Fredericksburg, Lodi, Millersburg, North Canton, Washingtonville and Wooster.

A grand opening for the branch will take place on September 10, with food and other goodies.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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