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Greater Tulsa Reporter


Local Banking Family Chooses Jenks

By EMILY RAMSEY
Managing Editor

NEW HOME: The Bennett family poses in front of its new First Oklahoma Bank headquarters in Jenks near the corner of 9th Street and Main Street. From left, Tom Bennett, Jr., Sue Bennett, Tom Bennett III, Jim Bennett and Hank Bennett.


EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers


Tom Bennett, Jr., Co-CEO of First Oklahoma Bank, will soon call Jenks his new professional home. First Oklahoma Bank’s new headquarters, to be located near the corner of 9th Street and Main Street, is set for completion in June.

However, with regards to his personal residence, “my wife and I could definitely see ourselves moving into Jenks soon,” he says. He and his wife, Sue, currently live just across the river in South Tulsa. They have seen their three sons graduate from Jenks High School, “so we know the quality of education and how good the school system is for the culture of the community,” he says.

A 40-year banker, Bennett, of course, took a hard look at the numbers when determining where to relocate the bank’s headquarters from its current location in the CitiPlex Towers. But, he allowed his heart and eyes to guide him as well.
“You come over the river and think, ‘How pretty,’” he says. “The beautiful, physical location was the first attraction.”

A second attraction was the Village on Main development, where the bank will serve as an anchor. “When you look at the plans for the Village on Main, it’s a visionary project, from Utica Park Clinic to the aquarium, the waterfront area and the grocery store.”

Yet, these factors probably wouldn’t have been enough to convince Bennett and the bank’s executive team if Jenks officials created roadblocks. “I hear about people in other cities who had bad experiences dealing with city government, but that’s not true with Jenks,” he says. “We have had the total support of city leaders: the mayor, city councilors, the city manager. They have been helpful and encouraging.”

The encouragement from city leaders as well as what Bennett considers their progressive thinking were the final clinchers for the decision to base First Oklahoma Bank in Jenks.

One example of that progressive thinking is evidenced in the successful passing of the 2013 bond issue that includes road work around the Creek Nation Turnpike and U.S. Highway 75, which will create better traffic flow and make it easier for people to do business in Jenks, says Bennett.

Higher traffic flow equals more people and increased business, an equation for further growth within the city limits. He expects the number of deposit transactions of Jenks residents to continue to increase in the next 10 years, mirroring the trend of South Tulsa’s zip code area 74137, which saw an enormous increase in bank deposits from 1999 to 2013.

To handle the amount of financial business that Bennett foresees, he expects to see more banks come to the city soon. “Oftentimes, banks are a destination for people, and then they may go to a restaurant or retail,” he says. “I think, together, the banks will draw more people to Jenks.”

And as Jenks grows, bank executives hope to see First Oklahoma Bank grow.
The Bennett family and a group of close friends purchased Glenco Bank, the third smallest bank in the state, and opened First Oklahoma in November 2009 in two locations, its headquarters in the CitiPlex Towers and at 41st Street and Rockford Avenue.

Since then, the bank has grown to 77 employees and $260 million in assets from its starting amount of $10 million. “We believe we are the fastest growing bank in state history,” says Bennett. Bank executives plan to continue the growth and expect assets to soon reach $1 billion.

The bank will take up the majority of the new five-story building in Jenks, with a few office spaces available for rent on the fourth floor.

Bennett hopes to be moved into the building by the end of June. “We know the Fourth of July is a big deal in Jenks, and we want to make sure we are a part of it this year,” he says.

Updated 02-27-2014

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