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East Peoria Times-Courier - East Peoria, IL
  • Fondulac Banking Center to centralize services at new location

  • Jim Mamer must be a patient man. Almost half of his career has been spent planning the location of a new bank.

    A new Fondulac Banking Center will open in The Levee District along Clock Tower Drive Aug. 16.
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  • Jim Mamer must be a patient man. Almost half of his career has been spent planning the location of a new bank. A new Fondulac Banking Center will open in The Levee District along Clock Tower Drive Aug. 16. Mamer, the president and co-CEO of Fondulac Banking Center, said the project began 12 years ago with an option on some land. Morton Community Bank and its divisions began in 1960. Back in the 80s there was a lot of bank consolidation. Mamer said he was approached to open a bank in East Peoria. Fondulac Banking Center opened in 1987 in a former liquor store in Fondulac Plaza. Just within one year, there was not enough space so an addition was built. In 1994, another addition was added, but that still wasn’t enough. About six years ago, the bank outgrew its space again. Then, in 2000-01, property became available through the Caterpillar Foundation. “We really wanted to promote the site. We approached Caterpillar to take an option on the site,” Mamer said. In addition to expanding the bank in Fondulac Plaza, other branches were opened in Sunnyland and along Washington Street. The latter location is an express location and not a full-service bank. “We wanted to do something unique,” Mamer said. Over the years, Morton Community Bank, which Fondulac Banking Center is a division of, added more locations. Now they have 33 locations in 24 communities. In addition they offer trust services in Macomb and purchased Winter Insurance in East Peoria in 1999. They also purchased Unland Companies in Pekin two years ago. At the new location, trust services, loan operations, investment services and more will be centralized under one roof. “Now we will have a representative here providing trust services in the Metro area,” Mamer said. Many of the current staff at Fondulac Banking Center will move to the new location, but the current bank will also remain open. Mamer estimates that 12 to 15 new staff members will be added. The new facility will have three floors. The first floor will contain the bank, trust, insurance, new accounts and loans. The second floor will contain the credit administration and the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce as well as meeting space. Heinold-Banwart will rent space on the third floor where there will also be a large meeting space. The 54,000-square-foot bank is a $15 million project being built by CORE Construction. Redmond Group of Milwaukee is designing the bank. The trademark piece on the building will be the clock tower, which is 9 feet in diameter. The final piece of steel is set for the clock. “The clock is so large. The clock will be constructed and hoisted up as one unit,” Mamer said. After all these years, the pieces are finally coming together, but the project was not without its setbacks along the way. “We had to wait many years after great governor Blagojevich pledged money that didn’t come,” Mamer said. “That created a lot of anguish.” Now Mamer talks with excitement in his voice about the new facility and its benefits. “It’s going to be a quality place,” he said. There will be an all-wood floor with carpeting on the sides, a fireplace in the waiting area, an executive dining area, 80-plus parking spaces with 16 of them covered and a water fountain in front. There will be three drive-up windows and an ATM. Public speakers will come to the bank to provide talks which will be open to the community. Mamer said the new bank will offer many benefits, including convenience and service. “We still believe in one on one service,” he said. When asked if the goal is to attract more customers with the new location, Mamer said, “We certainly hope so.” “I’ve been at the bank for 26 years. I’m very excited. Half my career – 12 years – has been trying to build this bank,” Mamer said. The bank also has two additional lots near their new facility. Mamer said interest has been expressed for both locations.
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