SunTrust Bank has confirmed the planned closing of its Chilhowie branch in January 2017.

SunTrust has been in Chilhowie for about 14 years in a building that has housed previous banks. National Commerce Financial Corporation purchased the branch from Wachovia in 2001 as part of a divestiture from the First Union acquisition of Wachovia. SunTrust Banks Inc. acquired NCF three years later in 2004.

“SunTrust, like all banking companies, must constantly refine its branch network to meet the changing needs and transaction patterns of clients as well as taking into account their increasing usage of newer delivery channels such as Internet Banking and Mobile Banking,” said Hugh Suhr with SunTrust corporate communications. “The opening and closing of branches is a natural part of ensuring that SunTrust is able to maximize its market opportunities and meet the needs of clients in an efficient and effective manner.”

“The decision to close a branch is made after careful study and analysis,” Suhr said. “Many factors are considered, including market growth, real estate arrangements and transaction volumes. After considering these and other factors, we made the decision to close the Chilhowie branch located at 119 Lee Hwy.” 

Suhr said SunTrust began notifying clients in early October. The closing is effective Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 12 p.m. Clients’ accounts, Suhr said, will be transferred to the company’s Kingsport Financial Center on Fort Henry Drive or the company will work with clients if they wish to transfer to a different location.

SunTrust plans to sell its Chilhowie building.

“We remain committed to serving the needs of our clients,” Suhr said. “They will, just as they do today, have access to their accounts through our other branches and ATMs as well as telephone banking in addition to 24-hour delivery channels such as Online and Mobile Banking -- which allow them to bank anytime, anywhere.”

Suhr said the company is committed to working with employees affected by the announcement. He said they may post for other positions with the company or they will be offered severance and outplacement services.

 “They’re a leading bank as far as contribution on bank stock,” said John Clark, Chilhowie town manager, about SunTrust. “We’ll certainly lose that money, but I hate it for the employees. We will do everything we can to help them market the building.”

Clark said the total bank stock contributed to the town from its four banks is about $42,300. He said SunTrust has also been a contributor to town events such as the annual Chilhowie Community Apple Festival.

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