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Scranton-based bank ramps up foray into Valley, beyond

A Scranton-based bank’s search for growth out of northeastern Pennsylvania has taken a turn down the Route 33 corridor into Northampton County.

A Scranton-based bank’s search for growth out of northeastern Pennsylvania has taken a turn down the Route 33 corridor into Northampton County.

Next month, Peoples Security Bank & Trust Co., already a big player in the rebirth of Easton, plans to open a new branch on Emrick Boulevard in Bethlehem Township, across from the Anderson Campus of St. Luke’s University Health Network.

The high-visibility site off Route 33, a link to the Poconos and beyond, and proximity to nearby Route 22, is no accident, said Neal Koplin, the bank’s executive vice president for the Lehigh Valley.

When the bank went looking for a spot for its first branch in the area two years ago, Koplin said, it picked a prime spot across from the main entrance to Lehigh Valley International Airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, “for visibility purposes.”

It apparently paid off. Six months after opening, the branch had more than $4 million in deposits and now has about $40 million, Koplin said.

He said the bank remains on the lookout for similar high-traffic locations in the Lehigh Valley, which unlike its home base in the old coal regions of Lackawanna County, is experiencing substantially more growth, especially along Route 33 and Route 100.

“It’s a mature marketplace,” Koplin said, referring to the Scranton region. “There’s a lot more activity in the Lehigh Valley.”

The community bank has invested $40 million to $50 million in Easton and is the lead financer in the $60 million redevelopment of the Simon Silk Mill project, an old silk mill off 13th Street and Bushkill Drive in the city that will house about 150 high-end apartments and retail and commercial space.

“We’re very active in Easton,” Koplin said.

The bank also is looking to expand farther south into the Philadelphia suburbs in King of Prussia in Montgomery County, another area of intense growth, he said.

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