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The executive staff of the organizing group forming RockPoint Bank in Chattanooga include, from left, Kerry Riley, chief credit officer; Camille Daniel, chief lending officer; Patrick Jensen, chief financial officer, and Hamp Johnston, chief executive officer in February 2020 / Contributed photo from RockPoint Bank

One of the biggest new banks to be started in Tennessee has begun raising at least $30 million of equity capital Friday to start a new bank in Chattanooga later this year.

The new bank, to be known as RockPoint Bank, is being organized by former Chattanooga bank executives and business and community leaders. Even with 28 commercial banks now operating in metro Chattanooga, organizers said they see a need for another locally owned and managed bank since more than 90% of the nearly $10.2 billion of bank deposits in the metro area are now held by banks headquartered outside of Chattanooga.

"When the organizing group decided to take the leap to form a new local bank in our community, it was because we saw a void in the local banking landscape, and we felt it was an opportunity to make an investment in our community." said Hamp Johnston, formerly market executive for JP Morgan Chase & Co,.and a former manager at First Tennessee Bank who will serve as president and CEO of RockPoint Bank.

In its organizing documents, RockPoint plans to raise a minimum of $30 million in stock — and could raise up to $40 million of equity capital — by the end of April to facilitate opening the new bank with a downtown location by this summer.

As proposed, RockPoint will be a full-service commercial bank with an emphasis on businesses with annual revenues of $1 million to $50 million. There are over 6,000 businesses in the Chattanooga metro area in that sales range.

RockPoint Bank officials note that dating back to the mid-eighties, the number of commercial banks has been reduced by more than two thirds due to merger and acquisition activity among banks and a decline in the number of new banks being organized.

Pending regulatory approval and shareholder investments, RockPoint will be the biggest new bank chartered in Chattanooga since the former CapitalMark Bank was organized in 2007. CapitalMark was ultimately sold in 2015 to Pinnacle Bank for $187 million.

"Regional banks are centralizing processes and resources into larger markets, leaving mid-sized and smaller communities with fewer resources and less access to decision makers," Rockpoint says in its organizing documents..

RockPoint Bank organizers filed their application with the Office of Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. last November for the new bank. Organizers say they are seeking a diverse mix of shareholders, rather than any large single stockholder. Bank organizers said they anticipate 250 to 300 shareholders with no one entity having ownership of 10% or more.

"Our goal is to have a bank that represents the Chattanooga area, which we believe is best accomplished by having significant community representation in ownership," said Harshad Shah, president and CEO of Hamilton Plastics and one of the 10 business and community leaders who will serve on the bank's board. "From my previous experience, a commercial bank with local decision-making increases opportunities for local entrepreneurs to grow their businesses."

The other community and business leaders on the bank organizing board include Ben Brock, former president and CEO of Astec Industries; John Haddock, chief financial officer of Transcard Payments, LLC; Charlie Hunter, president of Hunter Oil; Deston Hutcherson, owner and manager of C&D Recycling, LLC; Bill Kilbride, the former president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and TVA board member; Dallas Joseph, chief operating officer and chief financial officer for Baylor School; Cindy Lee, president and CEO of LYNC Logistics, LLC; Dr. Mark McOmie, owner of McOmie Family Dentistry; and Kirby Yost, shareholder at Chambliss Bahner & Stophel.

In addition to Johnston, the proposed management team includes Camille Daniel, chief lending officer; Kerry Riley, chief credit officer, and Patrick Jensen, chief financial officer.

Hunter said the management team is "savvy about technology and understand our community and what businesses and individuals want and need from a bank because they live and work here."

Additional information about the bank and its stock offering is available at www.rockpointbank.com.

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