As the phenomenal story of growth continues in our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown, so has the increase in the number of financial institutions that are choosing to locate here; this is especially true with full-service banks that are reaching out to our residents as the nation continues its climb from the five-year-old Great Recession.
One of those businesses, a local and homegrown one, this month is celebrating a special occasion.
Bank of Cleveland, which opened its doors May 8, 1987, in a modest mobile home facility on Keith Street during a vast remodeling project of the historic Fillauer building in downtown Cleveland, is now 25 years old. The growing, widely respected financial institution has earned a well-deserved “Happy Birthday!” because it symbolizes an American dream in a small-town atmosphere.
Bank of Cleveland is not part of a vast corporate conglomerate.
Bank of Cleveland is not an offshoot of a bigger enterprise.
Bank of Cleveland is not a smaller subsidiary of a distant and faceless business giant.
Bank of Cleveland is not the product of a merger, a downsizing or a government bailout.
Bank of Cleveland is the intended objective of a small group of Bradley County bankers — whose careers once were intertwined with other institutions — who decided to come together and to form their own. Two of the principals were the late Bobby Taylor and his son, Scott, a family tandem whose quest for a locally-borne, homegrown approach led to the formation of what has become one of the most respected financial institutions in not only Cleveland and Bradley County, but across the state of Tennessee and throughout the U.S.
Those who have been a part of Bradley County for decades remember the bank’s modest launch. The Taylors and fellow banker John Haile opened a tiny mobile home facility on Keith Street which would provide temporary housing until the businessmen’s true vision became reality. The entrepreneurs made a deepening commitment to their community by choosing to remodel the historic Fillauer building downtown across from the Bradley County Courthouse, the site which now serves as Bank of Cleveland’s main office. Until the renovation’s completion, the newest bank in town would operate from quaint beginnings.
That was 25 years ago, an era of bank mergers nationwide. But the local businessmen didn’t want to merge, consolidate or to become a tiny part of an expanding empire. They wanted to start fresh and build anew.
According to a full-page announcement published in last Sunday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner, “Bank of Cleveland was established with the express goal of providing Bradley County a true, locally owned and operated community bank.”
Since that humble beginning, Bank of Cleveland has become a story of growth and local expansion with a specific dedication to the people of Cleveland and Bradley County. The bank’s birth a quarter-of-a-century ago came with 10 employees in a single location. Today, the business boasts 63 employees and five offices — the main office downtown which opened in 1988; the 25th Street office that opened in 1989; the downtown Motorbank on Broad Street and Central Avenue which opened in 1993; the Bradley Square office on Paul Huff Parkway that opened in 1995; and the Southforke office on APD-40 that opened in 1998.
This remarkable success story has included multiple milestones including national rankings by the ABA Banking Journal and a top ranking in Tennessee by FMC Group among those institutions headquartered in this state.
In 2010, Bobby Taylor Avenue was dedicated downtown in memory of the Bank of Cleveland founder, and in 2009 and 2011 the bank was instrumental in securing significant grants for Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland. Earlier this year, the bank made a sizeable contribution to Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation in support of our schools, teachers and our young people.
A bank whose strength is customer service also boasts a big heart for Cleveland and Bradley County and the people who call it home.
We congratulate Bank of Cleveland on turning 25.
We wish you continued success for the next 25 years, and beyond!