By Summer Jarro Ι Daily Sun Senior Writer Ι October 17, 2022
Citizens First Bank continues to expand in The Villages and beyond.
In September, Citizens First Bank opened a new branch in Belleview. It’s the 15th Citizens First Bank branch to open in the area and the fourth to open in Marion County. After a soft-opening phase, the business held a grand-opening event with a ribbon cutting Sept. 22 to celebrate the new location.
The new branch is at 5068 SE Abshier Blvd.
The new branch is fully staffed and includes an ATM and drive-thru. It does not include safe deposit boxes.
“It’s a full-service branch,” said Jay Bartholomew, chief banking officer for Citizens First Bank.
A Belleview location was opened because of demand.
“Our bank has continued to grow as The Villages has continued to expand,” said Michelle Crawford, vice president of marketing for Citizens First Bank. “Our mission is to provide personalized banking services to the residents and businesses in our community.”
Citizens First Bank has been working on opening locations in the downtown Ocala area but noticed there were areas in need of service between The Villages and Ocala.
“We realized there is a pretty big gap between The Villages market and the downtown area,” Bartholomew said.
So they opened a branch in Belleview.
“That seems like a logical midpoint to connect Ocala with The Villages market,” Bartholomew said.
Belleview is seeing some growth as Ocala grows, and Citizens First Bank has benefited, he said. Citizens mostly serves Villages residents, but the bank has many employees who live in Marion County and other surrounding communities and the company wants to serve them, too.
“Our branches in Belleview, Ocala, Fruitland Park and Leesburg help us to do that,” Crawford said.
Citizens also opened a branch in Ocala in October 2021. But the company also is seeing growth in other ways year over year.
In June, the bank had $4.09 billion in total assets compared to $3.43 billion in June 2021, according to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council Central Depository’s Public Data Distribution. That is an increase of about 19% from 2021 to 2022.
The bank’s deposits also have increased in the last year. In June, the bank had a total of $3.12 billion in deposits. In June 2021, there was $2.81 billion in deposits. The bank saw an increase of about 11%, according to the FFIEC’s Central Depository’s Public Data Distribution.
At the new Belleview branch, business is going well so far.
Bartholomew said he has seen good feedback on social media and has heard from others that they are pleased the bank is expanding and serving more people.
“The feedback has been very positive from the staff,” Bartholomew said.