Smaller Communities Hit Hard by Bank Closures

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In recent months -- two banking giants, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank, announced they're shutting down hundreds of brick-and-mortar branches. (KFSN)

In recent months -- two banking giants, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank, announced they're shutting down hundreds of brick-and-mortar branches, including several locations in the Central Valley. For a small town like Kingsburg - that means the community is losing half of its banks.

Just like the church bells going off every hour, the residents of Kingsburg can pretty much count on running into a familiar face downtown. For business owner Mark Jones, that's the appeal of living and working in the small town. "I know just about every neighbor on this block and it's really cool." Jones owns Tri-County Janitorial. With dozens of accounts and employees to manage, he's grateful his bank is so close. It's just a block and a half away -- walking distance -- for his daily deposits. "My family made more of a commitment to that bank within the last two months because of the great customer service we got there."

But his Citibank branch is closing next Friday, March 6th -- one of 7 Valley locations the company is shutting down. Selma is the next closest -- but not close or convenient enough for Jones who wrote a letter expressing his disappointment. Citibank told Action News the company is "optimizing its branch network, which includes opening, renovating and, where appropriate, closing branches."

The same goes for Chase bank's Kingsburg branch -- slated to close sometime this Spring. A spokesperson confirmed *all* in-store branches at Savemart stores will close, as more customers turn to online banking options. With the Kingsburg closures, that will leave only two banks -- Bank of America and West America -- to serve the community of about 12,000 people.

Adam Castaneda, Executive Director of the Kingsburg District Chamber of Commerce, says Kingsburg is a unique community with old-fashioned values, "So we do value a lot of in-person services and having those branches in Kingsburg is extremely important." The Kingsburg Chamber of Commerce is taking a proactive approach, recruiting replacements. Castaneda says, "Kingsburg is very viable, and it's growing. There are a lot of changes happening here, and so with that we're hoping we can attract new banks."

The other Citibank branches closing include Chowchilla, Madera, Sanger, Porterville and two in Visalia. JP Morgan Chase plans to close 300 more bank branches over the next two years, but a spokesman said it was too early to say which locations.
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