A "Who's Who" of Rochester used golden shovels to toss scoops of dirt Monday to officially launch the construction of a new $7 million bank complex.
While construction crews have already dug a huge hole for West Bank's new Rochester headquarters, the Iowa-based bank bought out its leadership team and its well-known local community board members for a groundbreaking ceremony.
The bank has operated a branch office in Rochester, since 2013. The new two-story, 15,000-square-foot complex is completed in late summer to early fall of 2016. It will stand on the hill overlooking West Circle Drive Northwest, next to Rooster's Bar & Grill and across from McDonald's. The bank expects to have a team of about 12 employees to staff the new location.
"This bank is different. We're not all things to all people. This is a community bank focused on business," West Bank CEO Dave Nelson.
Despite being a 122-year-old Iowa bank, West Bank has deep roots in Rochester. Nelson was the president of Wells-Fargo Rochester for many years, before he took the reins of West Bank in 2010. He has recruited many of his former co-workers to staff West Bank's Rochester location.
"We know Rochester. We have experienced bankers who know how to work with businesses," he said. "As a community bank, we make local decisions. We're what businesses are looking for - predictable, dependable and accessible."
In addition to the staff, Nelson has recruited what he calls "a Who's Who" list of Rochester's business leaders to serve on West Bank's local community board. The board includes Gus Chafoulias, Joe Powers, Pat Deutsch, Sandy Keith, Dave Pederson Jim McPeak Sr., Hal Henderson, Pete Schuller, Ed Stanley, Tim Weir, Greg Groves, Charlie Kuehn, Dick Kuehn and Norb Harrington.
"It really is an endorsement of West Bank to have them all on the board," said Nelson.
It focus on business banking means the new building with not look like most bank branches. While it will have a drive-through, it will not have many teller lines for customers. The West Bank building will have a large roof-top plaza for events as well as a large conference center for meeting.
"It is unlike any other bank in Rochester," said local architect Hal Henderson of HGA.
Builder Pete Schuller of AB Systems pointed out that the site allows for extensive landscaping.
"It will be like a new park here. It's a great addition to Rochester," he said.
Rochester has seen many new financial institutions - Bremer Bank, Alta Credit Union, Manufacturers Bank & Trust Co. and F&M Community Bank - come into the market in recent years. Driving much of that interest has been Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative. However, Nelson says that's not the case with West Bank.
"DMC is not why we came to Rochester. We came because Rochester deserves a good community bank," he said.