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Business Pulse - First National Bank branching out
FIrst National ribbon
First National Bank of Middle Tennessee president and CEO Pieter van Vuuren is all smiles after cutting the ribbon at the bank’s newest location in Nashville on Thursday.

As a community, we’re always eager for companies to expand into Warren County. Think how giddy we were to land Zaxby’s, and before that Applebee’s and Lowe’s.

Nowadays, everyone seems to be keeping their fingers crossed the stars and moon will align just right and we’ll get Chick-fil-A.

While companies moving in always generate buzz, it should be equally important to sing and dance about local businesses which are expanding outside of Warren County. So allow me to warm up the microphone for First National Bank of Middle Tennessee.

First National got its start right here in McMinnville way back in 1874, which is 145 years ago. At its 100-year anniversary in 1974, the bank had $46 million in total assets.

First National expanded outside of Warren County for the first time in 2011 when it opened a branch in Murfreesboro. That was followed by the opening of a mortgage office in Shelbyville later that same year.

The growth would continue with the opening of loan offices in Smyrna and Spring Hill in 2015. By 2017, First National had its second full-service branch in Murfreesboro and it also opened a mortgage office in Nashville.

Now I’m pleased to announce First National is fresh off a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday in Nashville at its newest office at 1911 21st Avenue South. The new office is located in a home built in 1910.

“We like the story of being in a house with a ton of character that reflects the story of First National Bank, a story of being a well-established institution that has survived the Great Depression and Great Recession,” said president and CEO Pieter van Vuuren. “This is a full-service branch, except for the location will not have any cash or have the ability to take any cash deposits. Other than that, you can do anything -- open accounts, deposit checks and do any loan that you would normally be able to do at any of our other offices.”

The location in an old home certainly makes this an attention-grabbing move. So many of the current building trends favor mechanical designs that are very formulatic. These designs are as flavorful as cardboard and as charming as a concrete block.

“We wanted this office to be different than every other bank in the Nashville market,” said van Vuuren. “We want it to be a place where customers have easy access to and can visit with our experienced staff members in a very casual setting. When you go into the house or drive up to it, you can most definitely feel the distinction between a traditional branch and this set up.”

Van Vuuren said First National has several customers from its current markets that do business in Nashville so it made expanding into Music City a logical choice. In addition, there are several customers from Nashville who have worked with First National. 

“It was just time for us to establish a Nashville presence,” said van Vuuren.

On behalf of the board of directors at Business Pulse, we are proud to applaud First National Bank of Middle Tennessee for its growth and we hope for the bank’s continued success.

Farm Bureau

Finds new pasture

America is blessed with many trusted companies, like McDonald’s, which serve as a bedrock to our country. You can walk in a McDonald’s anywhere in the United States and know you’re going to get great fries and a delicious milkshake. It’s amazing.

When it comes to insurance, Farm Bureau is a name that has gained trust. Warren County is now fortunate to have two Farm Bureau offices after a second location has opened at 6282 Manchester Highway next to Subway.

Kevin Rhoton is the agency manager and he’s helped by Brittany Jones who specializes in health services.

The new Farm Bureau office is completely separate from the longtime Farm Bureau location on Magness Drive near the hospital where Jeff Flatt is the manager. Kevin says business has been gradually gaining steam in the month or so since the new office has opened.

“We’ve been getting a lot of good feedback, especially from the folks who work at Bridgestone since this new office is so convenient to them,” said Kevin. “Now they don’t have to drive all the way to the other side of town.”

Kevin said it was a little unnerving the first day when the doors opened and there was little to do. But business has gradually picked up and the new office is gaining momentum.

“It’s surprisingly nice how much interest we’ve had,” said Kevin. “This location came about because we needed it. Convenience means a lot to people.”

Kevin said Warren County was one of the last communities in this particular Farm Bureau region that was not a multi-office county. He said it was a home office decision to open the second location and he’s pleased to be on board as the manager.

For your home, auto and life insurance needs, the new office is located between Subway and Valle Verde at 6282 Manchester Highway. That makes it easy to stop by before or after lunch. The phone number is 668-7075.

Industrial board

Eyes job guidelines

Some of you may have noticed the State Roundup story in today’s A Section that talked about incentives for companies expanding in Tennessee.

For example, SmileDirect plans to add 2,010 jobs in Nashville with a $27.25 average hourly wage while investing $217 of its own money. In return, the company will get about $10 million in economic incentives.

In another move, trucking firm Western Express plans to add 225 jobs with an average hourly wage of $33.89 while investing $88 million of its own money. The company will receive $1.3 million in state incentives.

Here in Warren County, I think members of our Industrial Development Board would do at least 15 jumping jacks if we could land a company with an average hourly wage of $27.

Our IDB does have a number of industrial sites available, and a spec building that should be under construction in a matter of months. IDB director Don Alexander wants to make sure those sites go to companies which are going to bring good-paying jobs to Warren County, not jobs that pay $8.50 an hour.

Don wants to establish framework for companies looking to locate here to ensure our available sites are utilized to the best benefit of the community.

“We want this to be a good return on our investment for the county,” said Don.

He asked board members to consider what type of minimum requirements the county should create in terms of number of jobs and the pay of those jobs. I think this is an excellent idea.

Warren County doesn’t need any more low-paying jobs. If we could recruit a couple companies that pay more than $20 an hour it would directly help the employees who work there and indirectly raise the price of our local labor.

“A rising tide raises all ships,” said Don.

Three cheers for the IDB.

That’s all folks

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