LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Two banking executives touted Acadiana as a center of Southern banking activity during a presentation this past week on the outlook for the local industry.
While the nation has struggled through an economic downtown, three Lafayette banks have been on growth spurts with Iberia Bank growing by 164 percent since December 2007, Home Bank by 134 percent and MidSouth Bank by 63 percent, according to figures provided by Jerry Vascocu, Iberia Bank's president for the Lafayette market.
The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/PXjYrh) Vascocu and MidSouth Bank President and CEO Rusty Cloutier spoke at a meeting of the Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation.
The most wide-ranging expansion has been done by Iberia Bank.
In January 2007, Iberia Bank had 45 branches and operated only in Louisiana, Vascocu said.
The bank has 187 branches in six states after a string of acquisitions, Vascocu said.
Home Bank also pushed into the Baton Rouge and New Orleans markets.
MidSouth moved into Texas, and along with Iberia Bank has been gaining a foothold in the Houston market.
"This is the banking community of the South," said Cloutier, who put Lafayette among the top-tier banking centers in the United States.
Cloutier and Vascocu attributed the strength of the Lafayette-based banks to the area's stable housing market, large number of local entrepreneurs and low unemployment.
Vascocu said that Iberia Bank's "best business" remains in Lafayette, despite the bank's expansion into Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Florida.
He said one reason Lafayette banks weathered the economic downturn better than in other areas is because local bankers learned lessons about risky lending during the oil bust of the 1980s.
"Lafayette took its licks in the 1980s," he said. "Conservative business practices were built in at that time."
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com