Originally created 11/30/00

Branch adds conveniences

At Georgia Bank & Trust Co.'s new Columbia County branch, customers will be able to surf the 'Net, watch TV and let their children run around in the playroom.

Oh yeah, they can also cash checks and make deposits.

With its blend of customer-friendly conveniences and high-tech offerings, officials with the Augusta-based community bank say the new Furys Ferry Road location promises to be the market's most innovative banking center.

"It is definitely not a traditional bank of the past," bank President Dan Blanton said during a groundbreaking event Wednesday in front of the Publix shopping center on the 400 block of Furys Ferry Road.

On the outside, the 4,100-square-foot building will resemble the bank's six other Georgian-style branch offices. But inside the double French doors will be a technology center where customers will have access to fax machines, copiers and self-service banking via Internet terminal.

"This is for the customer who needs to do banking on the run," Mr. Blanton said.

And sandwiched between the mortgage, investment and trust department offices will be a children's playroom - a perk for stay-at-home parents and others who take youngsters on their errands.

Suspended above the teller lines will be two big-screen televisions allowing customers to watch news programs while they wait, an idea Georgia Bank & Trust executives took from a bank in Florida.

Trendy bank branches such as the one being developed by Georgia Bank & Trust are rare, but they are expected to become more common in the future as consumers expect more convenience and better service.

"I think it's a clear reaction to recognizing the banking experience that customers want to feel," said Joe Brannen, president of the Georgia Bankers Association. "Standing in line waiting for a transaction is not a fun experience, but it can be if you learn something or if you can do something else while you wait."

Georgia Bank & Trust, now in its 12th year, will have seven full-service branch offices in Richmond and Columbia counties after the new $1.2 million office opens in mid-2001.

The facility will be accessible from the Publix shopping center entrance closest to Wexford Drive. The state Department of Transportation's plan to widen Furys Ferry calls for a median break and traffic light at the intersection.

Georgia Bank & Trust's existing Furys Ferry Road branch, located near the Washington Road intersection, will be converted to a drive-through service only. The lobby area will be used as office space.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or bized@augustachronicle.com.


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