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Indiana bank expands reach with branch acquisitions

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Converse-based First Farmers Bank & Trust isn’t a household name in the Indianapolis-area market, but the bank based near Marion is becoming a community banking powerhouse around the state.

Parent First Farmers Financial Corp. said Thursday it is assuming deposits of nine BMO Harris Bank branches. It will acquire seven of the nine branch buildings and employees of all nine branches.

The branches are in Marion, Logansport, Terre Haute, Farmersburg, Sullivan, Clay City, Brazil, Carlisle and Shelburn.

Just over a year ago, First Farmers strengthened its foothold in the Indianapolis-area market when it acquired four Bank of Indiana offices, including one in nearby Bargersville, in Johnson County. 

The deal also landed First Farmers offices in Dana, Hamlet and North Judson

First Farmers already had a branch in Sheridan, in Hamilton County.

Indianapolis-based Bank of Indiana was at one time among the biggest U.S. Small Business Administration lenders in the state. Parent Indiana Bank Corp. was hammered by borrower defaults during the financial crisis and couldn’t recover.

First Farmers, on the other hand, has thrived as of late and now has 24 offices in Indiana and three offices in the Illinois counties of Coles and Edgar.

The BMO branches it is acquiring have deposits totaling $134 million. First Farmers is not acquiring commercial accounts or accounts with cash management services.

“These new locations are representative of markets that our organization has successfully served for generations and we are very confident that our products and style (of) service will be well received,” president and CEO Gene Miles said in a prepared statement.

First Farmers has assets of $1.2 billion aabout 300 employees. It was started in 1885 by  European immigrant Mark Tully and initially was known as Mark Tully’s Exchange Bank.

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