By Betsy Finklea
First Bank launched a new chapter in the Dillon Community on Tuesday with the groundbreaking for their new branch location in the heart of the Highway 301 business district.
The 3,300 square foot branch will be located at 201 Highway 301, Dillon, at the former site of Jimmy Lee Strickland’s Exxon station.
Matt Moody, First Bank’s City Executive, opened the ceremony with remarks. Moody said 2020 has taught us to “expect the unexpected.” He said the Dillon team had to go throught some “ups and downs” to get to this moment.
Moody said Brad Mickle, a regional executive, started the search for property to build a new branch and make the bank more competitive. Moody said John Long, executive vice-president of First Bank, worked tirelessly on this project, and it is something he was and still is passionate about. He said Long worked every day for the last year to make this happen, and this event would not be happening without his hard work. He also noted the contributions of Rob Patterson, a First Bank executive.
Moody said in the past three years, one of the reasons First Bank is getting better and better is due to talent acquisition. He also spoke about how First Bank strives to make a difference in the community.
Moody said they knew that the Dillon Community needed a modern, state-of-the-art bank where their two locations in Dillon could be combined into one location, and would serve as a landmark.
Moody also spoke about First Bank’s partnership with the city to make this project possible.
He also recognized Walt Brown and Charlie Vance, the founders of Carolina Community Bank, that was acquired by First Bank many years ago.
Mayor Pro-Tem, Dr. Phil Wallace, began his remarks speaking about the close personal relationship that he had with Matt Moody.
Wallace thanked First Bank for their investment in the community. He said First Bank is not just a bank and not just a building. He said they have hired people who have the trust of the community. He said they have invested in area charities and non-profits. Wallace said the Dillon City Council worked diligently on this project. He said they traded a city parking lot for the First Bank downtown branch on Main Street. He said they plan to make a police station at the downtown branch building.
Vince Tryer, vice-president at Thomas Construction Group, who is building the new branch, said their company had been partnering with First Bank in excess of 11 years. He said they were going to build a new, state-of-the-art facility. He said the anticipated grand opening of the new facility should be in June 2021.
John Long of First Bank thanked several people including members of the Dillon team – Branch Manager Michael Hayes, Amber Suggs, and City Executive Matt Moody. He also thanked the City of Dillon and said collaboration efforts make the community successful. He said First Bank is here today, will be here tomorrow, and will be here for years to come.
To show their ongoing commitment to the community, First Bank made a $20,000 contribution to the Pee Dee Coalition.
Moody then thanked the community for their support.
The groundbreaking then took place. Guests received gift bags full of First Bank goodies.
In a press release, Moody said, “we are extremely excited about our new location in Dillon. The tremendous amount of support we have received from the people of Dillon and the work of our First Bank team are two of the reasons we can make this large investment in the community. Not only is this site centrally located, but the traffic light helps with easy access to the branch.”
He continued in the press release saying, “having our team in one location will help with staffing along with an improved level of customer service. I think too that everyone will be impressed with our new modern facility. We look forward to the days ahead when we are all finally in one location.”
First Bank also has a location at 101 East Leitner Street in Latta.