Moving into Center City from the suburbs, Lancaster-based Fulton Financial Corp. is looking for a downtown location for its new Philadelphia metro region, which will be headed by Susan Lonergan, a veteran Bank of America executive and former CoreStates Bank business lender.

"We're looking for a Philadelphia office, and Susan will be our first person running it," said Curt Myers, president and CEO of Fulton Bank N.A. subsidiary and Lonergan's new boss. A city office would be Fulton's first; the company currently has 19 branches in the city's Pennsylania suburbs.

"Philadelphia is a great market. We want to participate in it, and it's the right timing for us," Myers added. Fulton is the third-largest banking company based in Pennsylvania, after PNC and FNB, both of Pittsburgh.

While smaller mid-Pennsylvania banks squeezed by low interest rates -- most recently Susquehanna, Metro and National Penn -- have lately sold to larger lenders, Fulton, with $18 billion in assets, "has a growth strategy," Myer added. "We continue to perform well and we are looking to expand," both through acquisitions and by relocating small branches into larger offices, as with Fulton's new location on Foulk Road north of Wilmington, Del.

Lonergan, a summa cum laude graduate of DeSales University in Allentown, learned the basics of business banking as a commercial lender at CoreStates Bank, Philadelphia's dominant bank before its 1997 sale to what's now Wells Fargo Corp.

She spent the past 18 years at BofA, most recently as small-business strategy and planning executive, said Fulton Financial chief executive and chairman Craig Roda in a statement.  Lonergan also served as president and COO of Merrill Lynch Credit Corp., among other positions.