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Heartland responds

DEPUE – In response to the doubt and confusion surrounding the reason behind Heartland Bank and Trust Co.’s decision to close down their DePue branch, the bank has spoke out about the decreasing business at the branch.

As previously reported, the bank’s reason for closing was due to a decline in the number of transactions made at the branch. The number of people using electronic banking also played into the decision, according to a Heartland press release. Paula Mitchell, Heartland’s vice president/retail director, said the numbers didn’t warrant the branch, and the bank couldn’t sustain the branch at its location.

On Monday, Nicole Williams, marketing director for Heartland Bank and Trust in Bloomington, confirmed there has been a consistent 40 percent decrease in foot traffic recorded at the branch throughout the last five to six years.

The decrease has been linked to the trend of electronic banking, which includes the use of ATM and debit cards and the direct deposit option a lot of companies are now utilizing.

The current trend in banking is one that has had an affect on the banking business as a whole, Williams said. The trend has created new reasons for people to visit bank locations. While less and less customers everywhere are using bank branches to make deposits and cash checks, more and more are using locations for consulting services and financial advice for investments.

While there was some confusion as to why the bank didn’t notify the village about their decision to close their doors, Williams explained the bank’s first priority was to notify their employees. The second priority was sending out letters to their customers. The bank had notified their employees first thing on Monday, and letters were sent out to customers on Tuesday.

Williams confirmed the bank will continue to keep an ATM machine in its current location at Casey’s General Store, so customers can continue to make cash withdrawals from their accounts at no charge.

Heartland CEO Fred Drake confirmed in a press release last week the bank will also continue to support the “Men’s Club, Christmas Committee and DePue Schools’ sponsorships for 2014.”

Williams said Heartland has every intention of staying committed to the community and will continue to serve customers’ needs at the Spring Valley Branch, which is located seven miles away. Safe deposit boxes are being physically moved to the Spring Valley branch, however, customers can do their banking at any Heartland location.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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