Booneville, Ark.-based lender First Western Bank is in the preliminary stages of expanding its operations center in Rogers.
The company has filed a preliminary development plan with the city for technical review, signaling its intention to add 6,857 square feet to its existing 3,969 building at 2722 W. Walnut St. The footprint covers adjacent land the bank owns south of the building.
Bank president and COO Landon Taylor said plans are out for bid, and construction will not likely start until early 2023.
“This will complement and expand the existing operations area and continue the bank’s growth strategy for the future,” he said. “Our leadership team has spent the past two or three years building a strategy to remain a relevant and independent community bank for [at least] the next 20 years.”
First Western Bank is headquartered in Booneville (Logan County) and employs 131 workers, 81 in Northwest Arkansas. The company has five full-service retail branches in Benton County — 11 in Arkansas — and recently surpassed $600 million in assets. That reflects an average annual growth rate of 10% for the past five years.
The Walnut Street building has no retail services. It was the bank’s first full-service branch in Northwest Arkansas when it entered the market in 1991. The company closed the lobby in July 2016 and remodeled the building to house its operations department. The bank discontinued ATM and drive-thru services there in July 2020.
Taylor said about 15 employees work in the operations center. With the expansion, it could hold up to two dozen more.
“Some are already on staff, and others will be new jobs as the bank continues to grow in asset size and as the need dictates,” he said. “We’ve already seen the benefits of having all back-office operations under one roof and believe we will see more in the future.”