First Community Bank celebrates 40 years of Valley banking

HARLINGEN — For a fortieth anniversary, the traditional gift is rubies.

Customers of First Community Bank were happy to make do yesterday with hot dogs and chips.

The local bank marked its 40th year of operation under outdoor canopy tents at its main office at 806 S. 77 Sunshine Strip, celebrating a four-decade transition from a tiny bank in San Benito to one which now has nine locations and nearly $500 million in assets.

“We felt like there was a real need for another community bank, local, to meet the needs of the community,” said an apron-garbed Anita Boswell, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for First Community.

“And we started with zero and now we’re at $478 million in assets and nine locations,” she added. “We feel like there’s a niche for us. Community banking is to be responsive to our customers and their needs and to really understand our local economy.”

First Community Bank was originally chartered as First National Bank of San Benito and opened its doors there in October 1979. The bank was founded by a group of local business leaders with shareholders ranging from the fields of agriculture, medicine, law and finance.

The bank remains Cameron County’s oldest chartered independently owned bank.

As she served up hot dogs, drinks, chips and popcorn for the crowd, Boswell noted her personal passion for community banking and what it means.

“It’s a different feel. We can be more flexible in what we need to do to help our customers to grow and succeed,” she said. “Community banking’s the best as far as I’m concerned.”

The bank now has locations ranging from South Padre Island to Edinburg in the west, and officials with the bank have long stressed the concept of having roots in the communities the bank serves.

“It’s not just numbers. We feel like we’re partners with our customers,” Boswell said. “When they’re succeeding and we have a part in that to help them by meeting their financial needs, that’s very rewarding. It really, really is.

“I’ve been in banking a long time ever since I graduated, and I think that’s the best of the business, the feeling that you get,” she added. “When they’re succeeding, we’re succeeding.”