Originally created 02/16/99

'Hometown bank' continues expansion



Thomson-based Georgia-Carolina Bancshares, Inc. will begin construction of a new $1.1 million bank in Columbia County in March.

Located at West Town Shopping Center on Washington Road in Martinez, the bank is scheduled to open by October, said Patrick G. Blanchard, president and chief executive officer of Georgia-Carolina Bancshares. Six to eight jobs will be created when the bank opens.

First Bank-Columbia County will be a 3,300 square foot traditional Williamsburg-style building, with four drive-through windows and an automatic teller machine.

"We feel Columbia County is a good growing market," Mr. Blanchard said. "We want to serve the people of Columbia County. We certainly plan to be a hometown bank. Our managers and our employees will be able to make decisions on behalf of customers and our officers and staff will be from Columbia County."

Georgia-Carolina Bankshares, the holding company which issues stock for First Bank of Georgia, now operates two banks in McDuffie County -- called First Bank-McDuffie County -- and will open First Bank-Augusta in March at Daniel Village. Mr. Blanchard said the holding company plans to ultimately build two more banks in Columbia County, with long-range plans to build in South Carolina.

"Beyond '99, we hope to open a new office every year for the next several years, alternating between Augusta and Columbia County," Mr. Blanchard said. "...Long term we hope to build banks in Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina and, in that way, we will truly be a metro-bank, providing financial services to the individuals, families, businesses and institutions of all five counties that make up the metropolitan statistical area."

To support its new Columbia County bank, Georgia-Carolina Bancshares has named an advisory board including local government and business leaders. Those on the board are: Jim Whitehead, chairman of the County Commission; former congressman Doug Barnard; T.R. Reddy, president of Powerline, Inc.; Nick Carter, of Carter Electric Co., Inc.; Doug Duncan, president and CEO of Golf Augusta Pro Shops; Jake Ivey, president of Ivey Homes, Inc. and local developer Carl E. Sanders Jr.

Melissa Hall can be reached at (706) 868-1222 ex. 113 or melhall@augustachronicle.com.