RockPoint Bank, a proposed de novo in Chattanooga, Tennessee, received conditional approval for a banking charter from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), organizers announced Friday.
The bank will be led by proposed President and CEO Hamp Johnston, who most recently served as East Tennessee's market executive for JPMorgan Chase.
Although RockPoint's $30 million equity raise, which it launched in mid-February, was put on pause because of the coronavirus outbreak, the bank still plans to open later this year.
"There was a lot of interest in the community and [the equity raise] got off to a really quick start, and then the world changed on all of us involved," Johnston told Banking Dive. "We essentially just hit the pause button. We didn't feel like it was appropriate. Folks had other priorities, we had other priorities. We understood that."
The de novo's organizers hope to resume the raise in the coming weeks and expect to complete it no later than Oct. 31.
"When you look at our target market, that small- to medium-business owner, we also want them to be shareholders and investors, and their world has changed," Johnston said. "So we fully recognize that and still want them to be investors and shareholders, so we're trying to find that right balance of when to restart."
Once the bank launches, Johnston said RockPoint will serve a community that has a growing need for local, small-business banking services.
"When we looked around, we saw in Chattanooga ... the same thing that's happening in a lot of midsize cities across the country, and that is there's been a lot of consolidation, and the regional banks are taking resources out and centralizing processes in larger markets," he said.
Local banks had 20% of Chattanooga’s market share in 2015, Johnston said. That has fallen to 5% now — from just two local banks.
"Neither one of those banks' primary focus is what we're going to focus on, and that's the small to medium businesses with their owners, operators and then professionals," Johnston said. "We just feel like there's a void there, and it's not unique to Chattanooga. It's happening across the country, but we think it's exaggerated here, just because it's such an attractive market, and that's made the need even greater."
RockPoint would be the biggest new bank to open in Chattanooga since before the Great Recession, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
"When we started on this journey last summer, we did not plan for a pandemic, by any means," Johnston said.
"We also recognize that if we can open later this year, and that's our plan, there's going to be a need for what we're providing. From that standpoint, we're excited, and we're looking forward to supporting the Chattanooga community," he said.