Blackstone-based bank pushes into Powhatan

An old clock outside the company’s headquarters in Blackstone. (Citizens Bank and Trust)

Armed with the recently departed CEO of New Horizon Bank, an out-of-town player has staked a claim in the Powhatan banking market.

Citizens Bank & Trust, a $365 million bank based in Blackstone, Virginia, has hired longtime Southside banker Jimmy Keller to man a new loan production office it’s opening at 3229 Anderson Highway.

It’s the bank’s first outpost in Powhatan and its fourth in the southern outskirts of the Richmond metro market, joining full-service branches in Chester, Colonial Heights and Amelia.

Citizens Bank & Trust CEO Joe Borgerding said his company has eyed Powhatan for some time and made the move when Keller reached out after he left New Horizon this summer.

“It’s a market we’ve been looking at for a while,” Borgerding said. “We have a branch in Amelia that’s been very successful for us. Powhatan is a similar community and there’s a tremendous amount of growth on the Route 60 corridor.

“With Jimmy we’ve got an experienced banker that’s well known in the community and a real market leader,” Borgerding said.

Keller landed at Citizens Bank in mid-August after resigning June 15 from New Horizon – the tiny Powhatan bank he founded in 2009.

Neither New Horizon nor Keller has gone into detail as to why he left.

“It was just time for a change,” he said in an interview Thursday.

Keller’s title with Citizens Bank is commercial lender and he’ll primarily go after small business clients and other commercial loans. He said he can use contacts built from covering largely the same territory over four decades.

“I’m from Cumberland County and my market has been primarily between Cumberland and Powhatan and parts of Amelia,” Keller said.

His career has included stops at the former Jefferson National Bank, which became part of Wachovia in the late ’90s. His branch of Jefferson National was then sold to One Valley Bank out of West Virginia, which then was absorbed by BB&T.

He ended up at what today is Essex Bank, by way of the former Bank of Powhatan. Then in 2007 he struck out to form New Horizon, which opened in October 2009 and remains one of the region’s youngest banks.

With his latest gig at Citizens Bank, Keller said, he doesn’t plan on slowing down.

“I’ve been in banking for almost 40 years now,” he said. “I’m looking to go a half-century at least.”

Borgerding said the bank has larger growth plans for Powhatan, which he said has the potential to justify a full-service branch in the future.

“If we see the growth we expect that’s where we’d like to end up,” he said.

Borgerding said the bank, which largely has operated in rural markets since its founding in 1873, began moving toward denser cores and urban areas recently in search of more loan volume.

“In the rural markets deposits are easier to come by,” he said. “There’s obviously less activity on the loan side (rurally) than you’d see in Chesterfield, Colonial Heights or Powhatan.”

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[…] About 5 miles west on Anderson Highway, former New Horizon CEO Jimmy Keller is leading the charge by Blackstone-based Citizens Bank & Trust for its first office in Powhatan. […]