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MANCHESTER, N.H. – In what is considered the financial hub for the entire state of New Hampshire, Manchester is an important place to establish a presence. The $572 million St. Mary’s Bank has done so for years but recently took its status here to the next level with the recent ground breaking of a new commercial lending center. The 3,900-square foot center, which will also house the credit union’s eighth branch, is scheduled to be completed in November. Nearly a dozen of St. Mary’s commercial lending staff will work from the new center. St. Mary’s Bank has the distinction of being the nation’s first credit union, chartered in 1908 to serve French-Canadian immigrants who came to work in Manchester’s thriving textile mills. Monsignor Pierre Hevey, pastor of St. Marie’s Church and other prominent neighborhood leaders formed the credit union for its immigrant parishioners. It has since expanded to serve anyone who lives or works in New Hampshire. The new commercial lending center is the latest layer of expansion and comes at a pivotal time, said John Flanders, vice president and group manager of commercial lending. “St. Mary’s has been doing commercial lending in New Hampshire for many years,” Flanders said. “(The center) is in a vibrant area of downtown Manchester. There’s a lot of existing and new developments in the area.” Indeed, the credit union started its business lending program nearly 15 years ago and has $40 million in loans in its portfolio, Flanders said. In addition to being an SBA Express lender and offering a full array of business deposit services, the credit union also works with the Business Finance Authority. The BFA is a state of New Hampshire government-guaranteed loan program designed for small businesses. Financing is allowed even when there is a change in ownership and the BFA receives a fee that is built into the closing cost. St. Mary’s Bank is one of several occupants of Manchester’s new high-profile $40-million retail and residential development called Manchester Place. The commercial space on the first floor of the building sits beneath 204 rental units, which will bring a number of new residents to the downtown area, said Brian Dacey, co-developer of Main Street Development Group. Behind the building is a 310-car parking garage, which services the apartment tenants. “We are extremely pleased to have St. Mary’s Bank as the major tenant in our retail space,” Dacey said. “Just as St. Mary’s has played an important civic role in Manchester for many years, we hope that Manchester Place will make a vital contribution to the ongoing revitalization of downtown Manchester.” When the credit union became the first and only one to have a presence in Londonberry with a new branch that opened in October 2004, it saw the need to also have commercial lending expertise there as well. In June 2005, Edward Dumm, vice president and commercial lending officer, was tapped to oversee the department at the new branch. Dumm, who has more than 25 years of experience in the commercial lending arena, has previously worked as a commercial lender for Derry Bank & Trust Company and Bank Boston and came to St. Mary’s Bank in 1999. “Due to St. Mary’s recent growth outside of Manchester, we believe having a commercial lending officer dedicated to Greater Derry and Londonderry will be beneficial to the community,” Flanders said. As for competing with banks and other commercial lenders, Flanders said the credit union has built a solid reputation over the years within the community. “Our mix of products, pricing and the way we deliver service – those are our competitive advantages,” Flanders said. “We’ll continue to make those advantages known throughout New Hampshire.” -

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