Banker comes home for new venture

Published 5:58 am Tuesday, October 26, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Donald White remembers when he was a child, he would walk down to the Sears store on the corner of Fifth and Sycamore streets while his mother worked in the family hair salon at Fifth and Ferry streets.
The house the salon was in still stands at the corner Fifth and Ferry streets, the Sears is gone, but White has returned to his hometown of Niles.
White will serve as Managing Market Executive and Commercial Lender at the new First National Bank office in Niles at the corner of Fifth and Sycamore streets, the very corner White would walk down to to browse the wares at the Sears store.
The office is wired up for internet access, employees are putting together office furniture, computers are on the way, and come Monday, Nov. 1, the office will open its doors for business.
White spent more than 20 years of his professional career in and around the Niles area, including consumer, mortgage and commercial lending roles for various community banks. Most recently, White served as Vice President at First National Bank in the Three Rivers market.
Joining White in the new office will be Jo Ann Burkett, who will serve as the residential mortgage originator for the office. Burkett has served as a mortgage loan originator in the Niles area for the past seven years, most recently with Countrywide Home Loans.
The new office will bring a new banking attitude to Niles, White said.
Last year, First National Bank was one of the top givers to the St. Joseph County United Way, White said.
Another way the bank might differ from other banks in the Niles area is how loans and mortgages are approved.
Customers looking to take out a mortgage can go online to apply and receive approval in a matter of minutes.
The average closing time from application to the customer moving into their new house is 21 days, White said.
In addition to assisting customers with mortgage loans, the office will also offer services to small businesses in the area.
White said the bank will work primarily with small to medium businesses which employ anywhere from five to forty people. Most businesses that size are manufacturing concerns and retailers, he said.
Customers will also be able to manage their accounts online, 24 hours a day. Services will include online bill payment, funds transfers, and online application for loans and mortgages, with instant online decisions.
With coming back to Niles, Don also returns to a lot of family members who still live in the area. His mother lives in Buchanan, his brother, sister-in-law, and two nieces live in Niles, as well as his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson.
The decision to open the office in Niles has been about nine months in the making as bank officials wanted to ensure Niles was the right place for expansion.
After seeing the revitalization of the area, White said the decision to open the office in Niles was easy.