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Banking & Finance

First Carolina To Open Local Branch

By Jenny Callison, posted Aug 7, 2020
First Carolina Bank, which has maintained a loan production office in Wilmington since 2017, will open a full-service branch this month. (Photo by Jenny Callison)
In just over a week, the Port City is set to see the full-fledged arriv­al of one of its newest communi­ty banks.
 
First Carolina Bank, which opened a loan production office in the Mayfaire area in mid-2017 and has since expanded into retail banking services from that office, officially opens Aug. 17 at 5815 Oleander Drive, Suite 100.
 
Based in Rocky Mount, the bank was acquired in 2012 by current CEO Ron Day, and a group of investors and reworked into a financial institution that officials say was designed for today’s regulatory environment.
 
In charge of the bank’s Wilmington operations are two people well known in the local banking community: market executive David Rizzo and senior banking officer Donna Cameron.
 
Rizzo has headed First Carolina’s local operations from the start, coming to the bank from his position as a commercial banker with FNB in Wilmington. Before that, he spent five years as senior vice president with Park Sterling Bank in Wilmington.
 
Cameron moved back to Wilmington from Charlotte last fall to assume her new position. In Charlotte she had been with South State Bank and, most recently, Pinnacle Financial Advisors. She previously held management roles with SunTrust and Park Sterling banks in Wilmington. She and Rizzo were colleagues at Park Sterling’s Wilmington branch.
 
Carolyn Phelps will be branch supervisor of the new First Carolina branch. She has spent nearly 30 years in the banking industry.
 
Working with Phelps will be two universal bankers, Laura Postlethwaite and Thomas Witherington. The concept of universal bankers is fairly new, Phelps said.
 
“Instead of a teller line and someone at a desk, our universal bankers will be cross-trained and can help customers from start to finish,” she said.
 
The new branch will be full service, Cameron said.  
 
“We will be offering all personal banking and commercial banking products and services: deposits, cash management, merchant commercial services, commercial lending,” she said. “We have credit cards, safe deposit boxes, residential mortgage lending and commercial mortgage lending. A big component is our wealth management piece; John Slayton leads the new wealth man­agement and trust division of First Carolina and will be at our location every Monday.”  
 
While the new branch does not have a drive-thru, it does offer a walk-up ATM and a night drop, Cameron said, adding
 
There is curbside service for cus­tomers who want it.  
 
Rizzo said last month that the bank continues to grow, even in the midst of the pandemic.  
 
“Wilmington, with all its growth, is still a small town. We’re a commu­nity bank. With a community bank you can do things locally. We are of a size that we can react quickly. First Carolina is still the fastest-growing bank in the state and has been for the past three years.”  
 
First Carolina’s board of directors includes two Wilmington residents: former banker and insurance execu­tive John Gussenhoven and investor and Bald Head Island Limited CEO Chad Paul.
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