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Posted on Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Bad Axe-based Northstar Bank set to open first Ann Arbor branch

By Ben Freed

Ann Arbor’s steadily growing economy has enticed another Michigan-based bank to expand into the area.

Northstar Bank, headquartered in Bad Axe, Michigan, has hired four new Ann Arbor employees and plans to have a branch operating in the city within the next three months. All four employees formerly worked for Michigan Commerce Bank.

Northstar Financial Group, Inc., the holding company for the bank, control’s Northstar’s four branches in Michigan’s thumb and four branches of St. Clair-based Seaway Bank.

The holding company’s CEO and president Kevin Nelson previously worked for Comerica Bank’s Ann Arbor office and said he felt comfortable bringing a branch of his current bank to the city due to his knowledge of the area and its economic resilience.

“I like the fact that financially, it is very strong,” he said.

“The west side of the state, where we bought a bank in February of 2011, and the Ann Arbor area are the two areas that handled the recession better than the rest of the state.”

The first step to establishing a bank in Ann Arbor will be to open a loan production office with the bank’s current employees.

“Once we have that established we can apply to the regulator world to turn that into a branch where we can accept deposits and do all the normal banking transactions,” Nelson said.

“Usually we’ll hear back within 60 days so we’re looking at hopefully a 90-day timeframe to have what we will be able to call a branch of Northstar Bank.”

The company is looking at potential locations in Ann Arbor, and Nelson said he could have a space by the end of the week.

“I want to get rockin' and rollin' and up in business as soon as possible,” he said.

The last Michigan bank to expand by opening a branch in the Ann Arbor market was Hantz Bank in 2011. The Oakland County-based bank and insurance group employed approximately 50 people at its Ann Arbor location shortly after opening.

Nelson said he is unsure how many people his new office will employ, but he thinks Ann Arbor’s strong economic ecosystem will allow his bank the ability to provide capital to strong companies and consumers.

“The strength of the region and our ability to get people who have been lending and banking in this market for a long to be part of our team made this move possible,” he said.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2.


An Arborigine

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 11:40 p.m.

Unfortunate that this story appeared above one stating that warm weather brings out con artists, I wish them well.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

As someone who moved to Ann Arbor from the small town of Bad Axe, it's nice to see I can go back to a bank with "small town roots". I miss the small town bank atmosphere. These big corporate banks feel so impersonal to me. I seriously can't wait for this branch to open!! Now if only it were going to be on the West side of Ann THAT would be convenient. Hint hint....


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

I always wanted to do business with a Bad Axe bank...