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Bank changes name
First Citizens becomes Foothills Community
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Dawson County-based First Citizens Bank of Georgia will open Thursday as Foothills Community Bank.

"I know non-customers are going to say, ‘There goes another bank.' But that's not the case," said Mike Underwood, executive vice president. "We want to make sure we're known as a community bank, because to us, there is such a big difference. There are so many players in the market and we want to make sure we're set apart."

President and CEO Charles Buckner said the rebranding process began in 2010.

"This is really a big deal. Typically, the only time something like this happens is when someone buys a bank or there's a merger," he said. "When we selected our name, we had grand visions of First Citizens Bank of Georgia anywhere you travel across the state.

"Once the economy changed, things got more difficult, and we really had to start looking at focusing on tending to our immediate needs."

Customers were notified of the bank's plans in December with assurances that the only change they would see was the name.

"Nobody has left. Nothing has changed," Buckner said. "One of the questions we continue to get is, ‘What impact will this have on the customers?'

"It should have no impact because transit routing numbers on checks doesn't change. They can still use their checks, still use their debit cards.

"As the debit cards come due, we'll send them the new one, and we'll be starting that in January."

Signs were scheduled to change overnight Tuesday or during the day Wednesday at the main location on Ga. 400 in Dawsonville, as well as the branch on Bethelview Road in Forsyth County.

"Again, the main thing we'd like to convey ... nothing negative is happening," Buckner said. "We're like a lot of community banks. We've been struggling for three-plus years. But things seem to be getting better with the economy. Things are getting better with the bank."

Organized in 2006 and opened the following year with an emphasis on "local decision making, responsiveness, reliability, consistency and superior client service," First Citizens Bank of Georgia is the only community bank headquartered in Dawson County.

"We've got a lot of really deep roots with our staff and our board of directors," Buckner said. "... We thought the name change better reflected who we are and what we want to do moving forward."

A grand reopening celebration is planned for the spring.