Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Amish start-up: The Bank of Bird-in-Hand

First U.S. start-up since 2010?

Amish start-up: The Bank of Bird-in-Hand

A group of Lancaster County farm lenders are hoping to start what would be the first new bank to open in the U.S. since 2010 -- and the first in Pennsylvania since early 2008, says state banking spokesman Ed Novak -- in the middle of Amish and Mennonite farm country.

The organizers, several of whom ran the former HomeTown Heritage Bank before it was sold to National Penn Bank of Boyertown back in 2003, have raised $20 million and asked the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to approve a charter for the Bank of Bird-in-Hand, named for the scenic village and tourism center off Pa. 345 east of Lancaster. More from American Banker here, Lancaster Intelligencer here.

Besides the small family farms and markets that crowd the two-lane highways, the area is home to a growing collection of woodworking, tourist and specialized manufacturing businsses, some of them owned and staffed by members of the traditional German-descended Christian congregations in the area, including Amish groups whose leaders shun motor vehicles and other modern technology.

Bird-in-Hand organizers include chairman Elmer Stoltzfus, who also helped organize HomeTown Heritage; chief executive Brent Peters, former head of the former East Penn Bank of Emmaus; and chief lending officer William O'Brien, a veteran of National Penn, according to the Banker.

Other organizers include J. Harold Bare of Paradise; Samuel S. Blank of Bird-in-Hand; Wilmer A. Esch of Bird-in-Hand; Levi A. Esh Jr. of Ronks; Samuel M. Esh of Bird-in-Hand; Levi S. Fisher of Bird-in-Hand; Melvin L. Fisher of Ronks; Daniel K. Glick Jr. of Strasburg; Daniel P. Lapp of Gordonville; Kevin J. McClarigan of Paradise; Christian B. Miller of Bird-in-Hand; David W. Miller of Bird-in-Hand; Edward L. Miller of Akron; Ephraim D. Riehl of New Holland; and John D. Stoltzfus Jr. of Leola, according to the Intelligencer.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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