First Community Expands in Conway

Batesville’s First Community Bank is enlarging its presence in downtown Conway after the $1.6 million purchase of the former Second Baptist Church in December. Construction of a 16,000-SF office at 766 Harkrider St. is expected to start by October.

A temporary modular branch will be opened on the former church property in July and operated until the new project is completed next summer.

The Harkrider facility will replace First Community’s branch seven blocks away at 1089 Front St. Opened in 2019, the office is the $1.8 billion-asset lender’s first and only branch in Conway.

Dale Cole, CEO of First Community, hopes to salvage the copper and glass steeple atop the former sanctuary and relocate it in a park area to be established on the property.

The new branch will be across the street from the headquarters of Conway’s Centennial Bank, which holds the largest share of the market’s $2.2 billion deposits: $969 million (43.54%).

Four other lenders hold at least a 6% share of deposits in Conway: First Security Bank of Searcy, nearly $458 million (20.58%); Arvest Bank, almost $163 million (7.32%); Pine Bluff’s Simmons Bank, about $157 million (7.05%); and Regions, about $134 million (6.02%).

During the first quarter, First Community recorded a $5.9 million profit this year, compared with nearly $3.7 million in 2020.