Bank acquisition results in Greencastle layoffs

PAT FRIDGEN
With the unique location of banks in downtown Greencastle, the Susquehanna acquisition of Tower Bank will result in consolidation into one building and cost 16 jobs.

Fallout from the Susquehanna Bank acquisition of Tower Bank has begun to affect the local community.

After the merge of Susquehanna Bank and Tower Bank on Feb. 17, the corporation will reduce its Franklin County workforce of 125 by 20 people. Sixteen of the layoffs will be in the Greencastle office. Stephen Trapnell, Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc. corporate communications manager, said the affected employees have been notified.

"They can apply for other open jobs," he said last week. "This doesn't necessarily mean they'll leave the company. We hope there are opportunities for them."

The employee roster was fluid, with people hired or leaving all the time, he noted.

"There are many significant contributors (in Greencastle) and we'd like to retain as many experienced employees as possible," Trapnell said.

A letter issued by Susquehanna said the restructuring and consolidation would result in the permanent layoff of employees with specific job titles. The action would take place in three rounds, on Feb. 17, March 9 and March 16.

Trapnell could not comment of the status of Greencastle's Susquehanna branch manager Sharon Ruppenthal or Tower president and CEO Jeff Shank. The leadership team will be announced closer to the merge date, Trapnell said.

Shareholders of Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc. and Tower Bancorp, Inc. approved a merger agreement Nov. 10, in which Susquehanna would acquire all outstanding shares of Tower common stock. The two banks are across North Carlisle Street from each other in Greencastle, but officials announced that the Tower location at 40 Center Square would be the site of the Susquehanna Bank in town.

Renovations will include expanding the drive-thru to five lanes, which should be finished in the second quarter of 2012.

Trapnell said the goal to serve the combined customer base was a high priority.

Greencastle Mayor Robert Eberly, contacted about the layoffs, remarked, "It's a blow to our downtown and we knew it was going to happen."