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Since then, First National Bank of Lawrence County has branched outside of Walnut Ridge for the first time in its 84-year history, and its assets have grown from about $75 million to just over $100 million.
It has been "pretty good growth for a market that's not growing," Smith said.
Two years ago, he opened a branch at Hoxie, the second bank in a town of fewer than 3,000. Then last July, First National entered Randolph County to tackle Pocahontas, which turned out to be more competitive than Smith expected.
"When we went up there, there was just First Community (Bank of Jonesboro) and Bank of Pocahontas, and we thought it was an underbanked community," Smith said. But American State Bank of Jonesboro opened a Pocahontas branch in January.
The graduate of Southern Methodist University at Dallas says he has no plans for First National of Lawrence County to acquire or be acquired by other banks.
"We think we have a good niche here as a community bank," said Smith, who is also a member of the board of directors of Arkansas Community Bankers.