Originally created 06/02/01

Bank touts new branch as 'one-stop shop'

Georgia Bank & Trust Co.'s new Columbia County branch, touted by the company as the market's most innovative banking center, will have at least one thing in common with the company's six other area branches: a Doug Barnard christening.

The former congressman has now attended opening ceremonies for each of Georgia Bank & Trust's seven local branches. The company's Furys Ferry Road branch opened officially Friday morning.

"I'm their lucky rabbit's foot," Mr. Barnard said. "I was there for their first opening on Wheeler Road, and hopefully I'll be at their next 50."

The 4,100-square-foot building, which sits in front of the Furys Ferry Road Publix, will offer amenities that President and CEO Dan Blanton said will cater to more than just his customers' banking needs.

The branch houses a technology center where customers can access a fax machine, photocopier and an Internet terminal for self-service banking.

The ATMs sell stamps and handle basic transactions. Teller lines have overhead televisions, broadcasting news, weather and stock reports. A children's play area with videos and books is sandwiched between the mortgage, investment and trust department offices.

Customer service employees are cross-trained to handle basic teller responsibilities so that the customer service area can accommodate overflow during busy hours.

The two drive-through lines - called "doublestacked" - each are equipped to handle two cars at a time in order to keep traffic moving.

"This industry is heading toward being a provider of all financial services, not just a select few," Mr. Blanton said. "We are not just competing with banks, but with insurance companies and brokerages as a kind of a one-stop shop."

Four bank branches now operate along a two-mile stretch of Furys Ferry Road, a major corridor to several of Columbia County's sprawling subdivisions. Georgia Bank & Trust joins SouthTrust Bank, Regions Bank and the SunTrust branch inside the Furys Ferry Road Publix.

First Union and First Bank of Georgia also plan to open branches along the same stretch this year. SouthTrust plans a new branch this year on Wheeler Road.

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or jbanks15@hotmail.com.


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