The offices of First Federal Lakewood bank are at capacity on Detroit Avenue.
The local bank is expanding into 13,000 square feet on two floors at Lakewood Center West.
And it’s added some jobs along with the expansion.
Tom Fraser, the bank’s chief operating officer, said that First Federal has gone from 205 employees (company-wide) in 2010 to 340 this year.
Approximately 190 of those jobs are in Lakewood, and more positions will be added during the next year.
“We think by taking on additional space, this will give us the opportunity to bring in more jobs to Lakewood — at least two dozen employees back into Lakewood,” he said.
The local bank is now among the city’s top employers, just behind Lakewood Hospital and Lakewood City Schools.
Fraser said the bank recently expanded its residential lending operations.
“We’ve been traditionally focused on making safe lending, prior to the credit crisis and after the credit crisis,” he said. “That has served us well.
In 2007, the bank loaned $100 million and was ranked 17th in the market. So far in 2012, the bank closed $900 million in loans “and we’re third in the market,” Fraser said.
Two years ago, First Federal acquired and merged with Parma-based Century Bank.
“That’s helped us gain a greater presence in Greater Cleveland,” Fraser said.
The bank — owned by customers, not shareholders — also has a low rate of foreclosures.
“We have a really strong home loan service,” said Fraser. “An occupied home is the best outcome for the community.”
The bank’s expansion plans are also good news to city officials, looking to fill some of the empty office spaces around Lakewood.
“First Federal has been such a long-standing institution in Lakewood,” said Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development. “I think this is a testament to their good business practices — they’ve been such smart lenders — and a testament to their customer services. They have been able to grow by leaps and bounds.”