Originally created 09/30/97

People's Bank opens door



AIKEN - The People's Community Bank, with offices in Aiken and North Augusta, has begun operations with assets of more than $9.5 million and more than 900 stockholders.

The locally owned and operated bank celebrated its official opening Monday with balloons, barbecue and T-shirts for all who dropped by the bank's Whiskey Road office. The celebration moves to Georgia Avenue today for the official opening of the North Augusta branch.

The stock offering at $10 a share is set to end today. President and Chief Operating Officer Alan George said no decision has been made on extending the sale period into next month, but one could come as early as today.

"The response to the initial sale of stock was so great that we sold shares totaling $6.1 million in just 42 days," Mr. George said. "That was the magic amount we needed for approval."

To open in South Carolina, a financial institution must first receive a state charter from the South Carolina banking commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Approval for its stock option comes from the Security and Exchange Commission. The Federal Reserve licenses the bank's holding company, the People's Commercial Capital Corp.

"We opened the bank because we felt there was a niche for a financial institution that is owned and operated locally," Mr. George said.

"Our goal is to fill a service niche for local, personalized banking," he said.

Tommy B. Wessinger, chairman and chief executive officer, began his career in banking in 1968 with Bankers Trust of South Carolina and served as senior banking executive with NationsBank until his retirement in 1995. Mr. George served as a senior vice president and regional director with C&S Bank, which later merged into NationsBank, until 1996.

Both Dale Slack, vice president and branch manager of the North Augusta branch, and Harriet Wood, who serves in the same capacity in Aiken, are banking veterans formerly employed by NationsBank.