Kalamazoo bank says promising West MI economy is reason for new branch in downtown Grand Rapids

Kalamazoo-based First National Bank of Michigan is venturing outside its Southwest Michigan territory for the first time since it went into business six years ago. Daniel Bitzer, the bank's market president, says the promising economy in West Michigan was a deciding factor in establishing a branch in downtown Grand Rapids on the corner of Ionia Avenue and Lyon St. NW.

"West Michigan is probably one of the strongest markets in Michigan, and this was a natural expansion for us," Bitzer says. "We have been doing a fair amount in Grand Rapids in the last five to six years and decided to make the step into moving into downtown."

First National Bank will occupy some 3,500 square feet of the main level of 141 Ionia Ave. NW, a building that has been vacant for several years. A complete renovation of the space is underway. Bitzer says the new bank will have an upscale, modern look and feel when it opens this fall.

The bank is privately owned and has $210 million in assets, Bitzer says. He adds that the new branch will offer a full line of financial services including credit cards, commercial banking, commercial real estate banking, mortgage services and more. Customers will receive free parking in the Ellis Parking lot next door, paid for by the bank. Mike Ellis of Ellis Parking owns the building.

"We're a locally-owned bank servicing locally-owned businesses and decisions are made locally," Bitzer says. "We're excited to be in Grand Rapids."

Hours: Mon. - Fri., 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Construction manager: Pioneer Construction
Architectural design: Concept Design Group

Source: Daniel E. Bitzer, First National Bank of West Michigan
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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