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December 9, 2020

Skowhegan Savings' southern Maine commercial expansion gets a home

A small modern-looking building with two people in and a wet parking lot Courtesy / Skowhegan Savings Bank A rendering of Skowhegan Savings Bank's new Portland Business Center, at 287 Marginal Way, expected to open in April.

By spring, a former tanning salon on Marginal Way in Portland will be a Skowhegan Savings Bank business center, catering to the bank's growing southern Maine commercial clientele.

The southernmost of the bank's 10 branches is in Augusta, but last year Skowhegan Savings expanded its commercial reach to the southern Maine commercial market. The renovation of the 3,040-square-foot one-story building at 287 Marginal Way into the Portland Business Center will give that new focus a home.

"The bank made the decision a year ago to expand our commercial business," said Andrew Cook, who joined the bank last year as senior vice president, regional market leader, based in Portland, to oversee the southern Maine commercial aspect. He said the location, right off of Interstate 295, makes the center accessible to the bank's southern Maine customers, who are not only from Portland and the rest of Cumberland County, but also from a target area of Androscoggin and York counties.

"What was attractive about the location, is that it checked off a number of needs," Cook said. Besides "easy-on, easy-off" I-295, it also has dedicated parking, located in a mid-century industrial building with Alberg Ski and Fogg Lighting. He said the fact it's in Portland's East Bayside neighborhood, which is evolving into an energetic retail and food area, is also a plus.

Cook said the bank expects to have six to eight employees working at the location, which is slated to open in April.

The buiding was most recently Tanorama Tanning & Clothing, which in June consolidated at its Windham location. Cook said the space is being "taken down to its studs" for a renovation that's designed by SMRT Architects. Optimum Construction, of Portland, is the general contractor.

The work includes not only interior renovations, but a change from the plain concrete exterior of the tanning salon to a more modern, eye-catching design.

The lease was completed in August through NAI The Dunham Group's Chris Craig and Justin Lamontagne.

Focusing on community

Cook said the decision to expand commercial banking to southern Maine grew from the fact the bank already had a significant number of Cumberland County connections and customers. Existing businesses that are looking to grow, and other business clients seeking out that community feel are the target customers of the business center.

Cook said the expansion, while a "new endeavor" for the bank, still reflects its community banking roots. The bank, he said, has long-term customers who like the fact it's local and they know their banker. That was reflected in 100% of the eligible customers who applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans through the bank to help weather the COVID-19 pandemic getting the loan, Cook said. Skowhegan Savings Bank provided more than 400 PPP loans, supporting thousands of jobs.

Cook said that the community focus won't be any less at the bank's first business center than it is in its traditional Somerset and Kennebec counties territory. The bank, which has $600 million in assets, was founded in Skowhegan in 1869 by a group of businessmen who wanted to support economic growth in the area.

The bank's mission, he said, "Is making our communities a better place to live and work while providing a customized approach to each of our clients." Understanding needs and solutions to problems are a bigger focus than products and services, he said.

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