By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
Gateway State Bank announced Thursday that it will be closing its Charlotte branch in October, citing the decline of customer traffic as the primary reason.
“Over the last 10 years we have seen a major decline in customer traffic because of online banking. We understand this is a difficult decision for the community, but we feel it is in our best interest to close,” bank President Gary Saelens said.
Saelens also said an increase in small country branches being targeted for bank robberies added incentive to close.
Customers still using the Charlotte branch will be relocated to the branch in Goose Lake, about 5 miles away.
“About 40 percent of the Charlotte customers are already banking at other facilities so the transition should be relatively easy,” Saelens said.
However, employees working for the Charlotte branch will not be so lucky.
There are currently no positions available at the other Gateway State Bank facilities, but Saelens said all former employees are encouraged to reapply.
The future of the bank’s building also hangs in the balance.
Saelens said he has been in communication with Charlotte city officials to discuss what to do with the building, but nothing has been formally decided.
“The bank owns the building so I proposed donating it to the city of Charlotte,” Saelens said. “It was recently remodeled so we would like to see the city get some use out of it.”
Although community members are disappointed with the decision to close the branch, they have been understanding of the situation.
“Customers are obviously disappointed but usually the last sentence to come out of their mouths is “it doesn’t surprise us,”” Saelens said.