Bank expansion means loss of community room

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY JULIE ANDERSON
Emprise Bank?s gain might be considered a loss for the city.

By the end of March, Emprise plans to have added five offices, a small conference room and four cubicles in the basement of its building at 104 E. Grand.

Emprise made the decision to renovate the basement six months ago because of the growth of its business. Prior to that, the bank basement has been used for numerous community meetings and events.

?We feel badly that we are taking it over,? said Cynthia Fleming, senior vice president and cashier. ?We have really been happy to provide that service to the community.?

Fleming said use of the basement by the community had decreased in recent years. One of the reason, she said, was there is no elevator going to the basement to make it more accessible to people with disabilities. She said that did not affect their decision because they would have needed the space anyway.

In September and October, the bank began notifying the groups who used the basement on a regular basis.

Fleming said although they did not like ending community use of the basement, the bank simply needed more office space.

?We had basically run out of room in our operations department,? Fleming said.

The bank?s load increased because it is doing all of the operations for the Emprise locations in Hillsboro and Council Grove.

The benefit for the community are additional jobs, Fleming said.

The project is helping the community in other ways too.

Kunkel Construction, a Hillsboro company, was the general contractor chosen for the project and other supplies also are being bought locally.

Emprise got bids for putting offices in the building next door, which the bank also owns, and in the basement.

Fleming said the cost of renovating the basement was about one-fourth the cost of using the other building. All of the office space will be filled except one cubicle, but Fleming said that would allow them to expand in the future.

?I think the efficiency of workers will improve,? Flaming said. ?We feel it?s going to be a real improvement.?

Files stored in the building next door also will be moved into the bank, providing easier access and better conditions in which to keep them.

In addition to the work in the basement, power-assist doors will be installed in the front entrance.

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