By Marian Douglas | Echo
The Upland office of Star Financial Bank will be closing its doors for the final time on June 9th.
This upcoming closing will affect many Taylor students. STAR Financial's branch on Upland's Main Street, along with its ATM in the Hodson Dining Commons, has made STAR a convenient option for Taylor students looking for a local bank.
The closing is largely due to what STAR Financial's Director of Corporate and Community Engagement Melissa Schenkel called a change in customers' banking habits.
"Traffic in certain geographic locations isn't enough to sustain specific branches," Schenkel said. "Our customers are utilizing our online banking mobile app and video banking machines at the highest rate in history."
While the physical branch is being consolidated, STAR still plans on keeping a presence in Upland. The video banking machine located outside of the branch will continue to run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Schenkel claimed that people can conduct most of their banking through the video banking machine, as well as through STAR's mobile app. "We have invested heavily in our online and mobile app capabilities allowing customers to open an account, apply for a mortgage or loan or even deposit a check at their convenience via a computer or smartphone," she said.
Despite this investment, some banking needs, like changing an account's PIN, require a visit to one of STAR's physical branches. There are more than 20 of these branches throughout northeastern and central Indiana, including a branch in Gas City and multiple in Marion.
Currently, STAR plans to keep its ATM in the Dining Commons. If this were to change, a second ATM provided by First Merchants Bank can be found in the Boren Campus Center, though it charges a transaction fee of $3.00 for those who do not hold a First Merchants' account. This is twice the $1.50 transaction fee STAR's ATM charges for non-STAR account holders.
The decision to close the Upland branch was not easy for STAR and was the result of multiple meetings. "Our roots in the Upland community run deep," Schenkel said. "However, we have to do what is right for long-term sustainability."
Those roots go back to the founding of STAR Financial. A 2013 Business People article celebrating STAR's 70th year of business recounted that beginning:
"In 1943, the Upland, Ind., branch of Citizens State Bank was in danger of closing. Partners in the Marion Trucking Company feared the bank's death would spell disaster for the community. Despite knowing little about banking, the trucking partners were confident that they could save the town from financial ruin by buying the bank and creating a customer-service based institution."
Though the closing marks the end of a long-standing Upland institution, STAR's many alternatives for banking should ease the worries Taylor students and Upland residents who bank there may have.