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Bank on it: Atlanta National Bank opens a branch in Pekin

Atlanta National Bank executives Neal Stimpert (left) and Chris Cummins stand outside the bank's new Pekin branch. It's the bank's first branch in Tazewell County.
Courtesy Atlanta National Bank
Atlanta National Bank executives Neal Stimpert, left, and Chris Cummins stand outside the bank's new Pekin branch — the bank's first branch in Tazewell County.

Atlanta National Bank is branching out, opening a branch in Pekin.

The bank is at 400 Broadway St., next door to the Pekin Public Library. The building was an Associated Bank branch until it closed in 2020, when Associated Bank sold its five Peoria area branches

Atlanta National Bank may not be familiar to many Pekin residents even though it was founded in 1887 in its namesake Logan County agricultural community. But it has multiple ties to Pekin.

Neal Stimpert, the bank's chief executive officer and a vice president, is a Pekin native.

"I credit my upbringing in Pekin for many of the accomplishments I've had in my life," Stimpert said. "Opening our branch in Pekin is, to me, a way that I can give back to a community that has had such a major influence in my development and success."

Chris Cummins, a Pekin resident, is the bank's commercial banking market lead and a vice president. He has an office in the new branch.

Stimpert and Cummins both formerly worked for Herget Bank, a Pekin banking institution for more than a century until it merged with Champaign-based Busey Bank in 2015. Stimpert was with Herget for more than 20 years and Cummins was with Herget for more than 12 years.

Stimpert said the new branch's six employees, many of whom also worked for Herget Bank, have more than 100 years of banking experience in Pekin.

Atlanta National Bank first made its presence felt in the Pekin community late last year when, as a sponsor, it paid for patched officials to run the experimental shot clock at each basketball game at the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament.

Stimpert has been the president of the tournament committee for more than five years.

Cummins said the bank plans to become more active in the Pekin community.

There are several other reasons why Atlanta National Bank opened a branch in Pekin.

"Pekin is a great market and the building we're in now was available. It's a great facility. It previously was a bank branch," Stimpert said. "Associated Bank did a great job remodeling the building shortly before it closed. It was almost move-in ready."

The location of the branch in Pekin and recent banking moves in the city also played a role.

The branch is a few blocks from Pekin's downtown business district that lost its Busey Bank branch at 33 S. Fourth St., in 2021, leaving one Busey Bank branch in the city — across town at 3200 Veterans Drive.

"The timing of another bank's departure from the Pekin market also is good for us," said Stimpert, referring to the September closing of a Commerce Bank branch at 2012 Court St.

Even though the Atlanta National Bank branch in Pekin has been open for only about a month, it has already made inroads in the community, said Stimpert.

"So far, the response from the business community and consumers has been tremendous," he said. "People are happy to have another banking option in town, especially an option they're familiar with because of the team of employees we've assembled."

Cummins said even though Atlanta National Bank is a small community bank, it can compete with larger banks and offer what they do.

"We're nimble," Stimpert added. "We can adopt and act quickly. Our loan committee meets weekly. Not everything needs to be bigger to be better. There's a place in Pekin for an independent, locally owned community bank."

The Pekin branch is Atlanta National Bank's second branch — the other one is in McLean, a McLean County town about six miles from Atlanta — but the bank needs to grow and wants to grow "because of regulatory pressure and the increased cost of regulation," Stimpert said.

Atlanta National Bank had total assets of $71 million in 2022, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Associated Bank, based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, sold its five Peoria area branches, including the one in Pekin, to Hometown Community Banks, a division of Morton Community Bank.

Four of the branches closed. A Peoria branch on West Pioneer Parkway reopened as a Hometown Community Bank branch.

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Steve Stein is an award-winning news and sports writer and editor. Most recently, he covered Tazewell County communities for the Peoria Journal Star for 18 years.