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New Valley Republic Bank opens today

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Valley Republic Bank, a community lender, opens Monday as the first new state-chartered bank this year.

The bank needed to raise $20 million in its initial stock offering. Instead, it secured nearly $25 million, an amount that will help fund its growth for several years.

The offering’s success is a reflection of the bank’s management team and board of directors: People with integrity, business acumen and strong community ties, said Bruce Jay, the 58-year-old president and chief executive officer.

“It wasn’t by accident. This is a process that evolves out of a long-term vision for a community,” he said.

About 95 percent of Valley Republic’s investors share that local connection.

Their stock purchases ranged from $20,000 — the minimum — to six-figure buys, Jay said. Directors invested significantly as well.

The California Department of Financial Institutions approved the bank.

Organizing the bank while the world seemed to implode was challenging, said Gene Voiland, chairman of the board of directors. He retired as Aera Energy LLC’s president and chief executive in late 2007.

“Whenever you start a new business, you don’t want to be undercapitalized,” Voiland said.

Valley Republic comes online with no bad loans on its books.

The full-service bank will offer checking accounts, debit cards and ATM services. But its primary focus will be the small business community, customers Jay believes would benefit from high-touch services.

Plans for the bank’s Web site, which is under development, include online banking options geared toward businesses.

Individual deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to $250,000.

In the next six months, broker dealers would trade Valley Republic’s stock “on the pink sheets,” Jay said.

Community banks typically offer second stock offerings three years to five years after they open. Management would contemplate a second branch in the next three years, too.

Jay and Voiland are optimistic about the region’s long-term economic development prospects — available land, oil, agriculture and the freeway and rail systems — and the helpful role Valley Republic could play in that prosperity.

“Los Angeles doesn’t have much more room to grow,” Voiland said. “We’re only 100 miles away.”

Valley Republic is at 5000 California Ave., Suite 110. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays-Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays.

Its number is 371-2000 and, in about a month, valleyrepublicbank.comshould be live.

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