West Virginia banks healthy despite ongoing economic troubles

125px-Flag_of_West_Virginia.svgDespite ongoing economic troubles, banks in West Virginia have fared well compared to other states in surrounding regions.

“In 2013, we expect to see continued growth,” Sam Vallandingham, the senior vice president of First State Bank, said, according to The State Journal . “We have been blessed with a good mortgage market which has allowed us to earn in down economic times.”

Eastern West Virginia is still struggling to deal with the ongoing housing crisis, but the west side of the state saw few problems associated with the housing bubble. Low rates have contributed to a growth increase in the mortgage business.

Jefferson Security Bank President and CEO Stephen Morris said that West Virginia’s banking industry is “very healthy and robust.”

“Since 2007, over 500 banks have been closed by the regulators, only one has been closed in West Virginia, and I don’t think that had anything to do with the recession,” Morris said, The State Journal reports. “As a state, we’ve done fairly well.”

Banks in surrounding states saw an increased number of bank failures. Pennsylvania and Maryland saw eight bank failures, while Ohio saw seven bank closures, Kentucky saw one bank failure and Virginia saw four bank closures.

Morris said that many areas of the state are protected from cyclical changes in the financial markets.

“When we have setbacks, everybody seems to overreact,” Morris said, according to The State Journal . “Bankers have a tendency to tighten credit standards. Regulators tend to use less judgment and be more black and white.”

Additionally, Morris said that bankers will watch for an uptick in the economy in 2013.

“Banking in West Virginia is very safe and very solid,” Morris said, The State Journal reports. “We have a great future ahead of us. The thing we need to do is just, we’re at a time where you have to just wait things out, and fortunately we’ve been able to do that.”

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