Scott Smith

KANKAKEE — Farmers State Bank of Danforth is merging into Kankakee-based First Trust Bank of Illinois in a deal announced late this week.

The transaction between the two independent banks is expected to close during 2019’s fourth quarter.

After the transaction, the combined bank will operate as First Trust Bank. The deal will add banking locations in Danforth and Aroma Park to the footprint of First Trust Bank of Illinois. Currently, First Trust has two locations in Kankakee and one in Bourbonnais.

It is anticipated that the transaction will increase First Trust’s assets to $300 million.

“We are thrilled to team up with John Kirts and Farmers State Bank,” said Jeff Smith, chairman of First Trust in a news release announcing the deal. “We are committed to the local business community and are confident that this partnership will bring additional strength and opportunities to the Kankakee and Iroquois county areas.”

The merger has been approved by First Trust Financial Corp. and Prairie State Bancorp Inc., parent companies of the two organizations.

Steve Lemenager, chairman of Farmers State Bank, said for more than 100 years, Farmers has been committed to supporting the local farming community and to meeting the banking needs of the area it serves.

“Partnering with a respected, successful community-focused bank like First Trust Bank will help ensure that our customers and communities will continue to receive the banking services they deserve for generations to come,” Lemenager said.

Kirts, Farmers’ president and CEO, described this move as a “win-win for our staff and our communities.”

“We are proud to be associated with a banking organization like First Trust Bank, as both of our institutions have proven track records with similar values, cultures and business philosophies,” Kirts said.

Kirts noted First Trust is committed to local farmers and being part of a larger organization.

“Whether you’re talking about making loans, community donations or simply good corporate citizenship, First Trust Bank has an outstanding record of commitment to the community it serves and we are excited to expand those practices to Danforth and Aroma Park,” Kirts said.

Scott Smith, First Trust’s president, said he’s impressed with the strong community bank Farmers has built.

“This is a great opportunity for us to partner with another strong, like-minded bank, and we are excited by the prospect of providing an expanded range of products and continuation of great customer services to our new customers in the Danforth and Aroma Park areas,” he said.

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