You have to keep a number of dates in mind when you talk about the origins of INB. The original Illinois National Bank opened in the late 1800’s. From there, it grew with the community. INB was purchased in 1988 and became part of a multi-bank holding company. In 1998, it was bought by an even larger bank. At that point, a group of people who had worked for the original Illinois National Bank decided it was time to open a bank that would put the local community first. They did just that in 1999.
INB board member Jim Antonacci told the story a few years ago about how he helped spearhead the opening of today’s INB. Jim says he and other bankers didn’t like the customer service provided by the big, national banks. “I’d have customers call me and ask for help, and I’d have to tell them, ‘I can’t help you. I’d be calling the same people you’re trying to call.’ . . . We had a strong interest in serving the community. That was a challenge and a need.”
Name Recognition Imperative
When Jim and his partners started out, they knew they wanted a national bank. He adds that the Illinois National Bank name was absolutely imperative! “We wouldn’t have done this without the name,” he says. “INB meant so much to this community.” Jim explains it was important to let potential customers know that the people involved with the first Illinois National Bank were now part of the continuing legacy. “We were fortunate to get to hand-pick our employees . . . people we’d trained and mentored at other institutions who jumped on the chance to be part of this. . . . We found a lot of good young talent; they’re leading the bank today,” Jim states.
But before they could open for business, there was still the matter of getting a bank charter. “We thought we’d be a de nova bank (bank that starts from scratch), because we couldn’t find one to buy,” says Jim.
To the surprise of the team, a small national bank in Fairmount, Ill. became available when the initial buyer backed out of the deal. “First National Bank in Fairmount gave us the charter we needed.”
On top of a charter, banks need a lot of capital (money!) to get started. So Jim and others began their search for shareholders. Once they were lined up, they got a line of credit to start the business.
Jim says one of the first things the team did was move the bank charter to Springfield. While Jim was out looking for shareholders, a full team was working out of Charlie Robbins’ real estate office on MacArthur and Outer Park streets in Springfield to handle the details of setting up a bank in Springfield.
Finding a Place to Work
In early 1999, the ownership group approached CILCO (Central Illinois Light Co.) about purchasing the building they occupied at 4th and Capitol. “We liked the location because there was an abandoned bank drive up on the adjacent property.” CILCO management told the INB team they routinely got offers from state associations who wanted to be close to the State Capitol Building, but the answer was always “no.” Surprisingly, they cryptically added, “But check back in a few months.” As it turned out, timing was everything. Shortly after this conversation, CILCO was purchased by another utility and the organization didn’t need the local staff or building. INB bought the building, and worked with CILCO staff as they transitioned out.
As we celebrate 20 years of banking, you’ll have a chance to meet some of the other people behind the reincarnation of INB, as well as hear from some of our business partners.