New bank opens in Cedarburg

When BMO Harris Bank acquired Ozaukee Bank in Cedarburg, several Ozaukee employees parted ways with the new organization.

Now, some of those employees have started a new community bank in downtown Cedarburg. Partnership Bank opened its doors on December 3, at N58 W6194 Columbia Road.

Dean Fitting, former Ozaukee Bank president and CEO, founded holding company Partnership Community Bancshares in 2007, with a focus on community banking.

PCB has so far been focused on purchasing community banks in Wisconsin. The idea is to provide compliance, operations and services from one central location and leverage economies of scale for a group of smaller banks, said Jeanne Mueller, director of marketing.

The holding company owns First Bank in Tomah and Town and Country Bank in Watertown.

“The banks are part of the community, so we sell shares of the bank back to the community,” Mueller said. “We believe if the community owns the bank, the bank is stronger.”

Partnership Bank is a branch of First Bank. Partnership was based in Menomonee Falls, but will now move its headquarters to Ozaukee County. This is the first new branch PCB has opened.

“This was the first time we could come back to Ozaukee County because of non-compete (agreements),” Mueller said.

The community bank model sets Partnership apart from other banks in the market, she said.

“We know the people we’re banking with and our decisions are made right here,” Mueller said. “Being here as a community banker versus making decisions far away, there’s a difference. And we know the people we’re making decisions for.”

Fitting has experience in starting a bank, since he co-founded Ozaukee Bank and helped run it for about 30 years. It was one of the most successful community banks of the era, said David Braaten, president of PCB.

“Coming into 2012, we just saw a void in the marketplace in Ozaukee County for a true community bank owned by the individuals in the community,” Braaten said.

The company completed a $2.5 million capital raise in October 2012 in preparation for its entry into the Ozaukee market, he said. PCB will continue to raise capital in the community from members.

Vince Cameranesi has been named president of Partnership Bank.

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