You’ll find great stories behind the buildings that make up INB. Many buildings are historical; some started out as fresh timber and new cement. All involve people. Many involve long-time bankers who dreamed of opening their own bank. Some are young kids, really, happy to be part of something new and vibrant.
We recently started documenting the stories behind the buildings, and in doing so, got better stories about people. We’ve only just started this journey of storytelling, and thanks to The Storyteller Studios (Josh Hester, executive producer), we also have these stories on film.
Join us as we begin to tell the stories of some amazing people.
Before the Building, There was a Vision for Better Banking
We asked Jim Antonacci to tell the story of how we acquired our first bank building in 1999 in Fairmount, Ill. In very gracious form, he told us, “No, we need to start our story in 1986-87.”
Jim, who helped spearhead the opening of today’s INB, says that in the 1980s, bank acquisitions were happening all the time. Bigger banks were buying the smaller banks, and that included community banks like Illinois National Bank (INB). Even though a major force in Springfield from the late 1800s, INB was a small national bank. In 1988, the bank became part of a multi-bank holding company. That holding company was eventually sold to a large bank. That large bank was purchased by a larger bank in 1998. “We were talking about starting a bank in the 80s, but it wasn’t until we were bought out in 1998 that we decided we had to,” says Jim.
The “had to” stems from the feeling Jim and other bankers had about the big, national organizations. “I’d have customers call me and ask for help, and I’d have to tell them, ‘I can’t help you. I’d be calling the same people you’re trying to call.’” Later in our interview, Jim says, “We had a strong interest in serving the community. That was a challenge and a need.” They just weren’t getting this opportunity being part of a national chain.
When Jim and his partners started out, they knew they wanted a national bank charter and an organization with a sub S tax status. And the Illinois National Bank name was absolutely imperative! “We wouldn’t have done this without the name,” he says, adding, “INB meant so much to this community.” Jim explains it was important to let potential customers know that the people involved with the first Illinois National Bank were now part of the continuing legacy. “We were fortunate to get to hand-pick our employees . . . people we’d trained and mentored at other institutions who jumped on the chance to be part of this. . . . We found a lot of good young talent; they’re leading the bank today,” Jim states.
But before they could open for business, there was still the matter of getting a bank charter. “We thought we’d be a de nova bank (bank that starts from scratch), because we couldn’t find one to buy,” says Jim.
But to the surprise of the team, a small national bank in Fairmount, Ill. became available when the initial buyer backed out of the deal. “First National Bank in Fairmount gave us the charter we needed.”
On top of a charter, banks need a lot of capital (money!) to get started. So Jim and others began their search for shareholders. Once they were lined up, they got a line of credit to start the business.
With a bank charter in Fairmount, Ill., how did INB open a bank in Springfield?
Jim says one of the first things the team did was move the bank charter to Springfield. While Jim was out looking for shareholders, a full team was working out of Charlie Robbins’ real estate office on MacArthur and Outer Park streets in Springfield to handle the details of setting up a bank in Springfield.
In early 1999, the ownership group approached CILCO (Central Illinois Light Co.) about purchasing the building they occupied at 4th and Capitol. “We liked the location because there was an abandoned bank drive up on the adjacent property.” CILCO management told the INB team they routinely got offers from state associations who wanted to be close to the State Capitol Building, but the answer was always “no.” Surprisingly, they cryptically added, “But check back in a few months.” As it turned out, timing was everything. Shortly after this conversation, CILCO was purchased by another utility and the organization didn’t need the local staff or building. INB bought the building, and worked with CILCO staff as they transitioned out.
While a lot happened in a short while, there was a time during the process where Fairmount, Ill. served as the new INB’s only branch. To honor the heritage, INB remains a faithful member of the local community. Watch a short video here about Fairmount.