The organizers of the New Haven-based Bank of Southern Connecticut, which opened in October 2001, are moving along with plans to open a new institution, the de novo Bank of Southeastern Connecticut, which would be based in New London.

Organizers of a young but successful southern Connecticut bank are moving closer to their goal of spreading hometown banks from New Haven to the Rhode Island border.

The organizers of the Bank of Southern Connecticut, a part of holding company Southern Connecticut Bancorp, recently finished much of the complicated application process for their newest venture, the de novo Bank of Southeastern Connecticut, and hope to open the New London-based bank in the fall.

“We expect, within a few weeks, to be awarded a temporary charter,” said organizer and holding company President Michael Ciaburri. “We hope to have the bank open and fully functional by early fall.”

The organizers of the bank presented the plans to representatives from the state Department of Banking on Feb. 23. That public hearing is one of the last steps toward receiving a charter after a lengthy application process.

Hometown ‘Void’

The process was long and difficult, but the bank’s organizers are experienced, Ciaburri said. The public hearing went well, he said.

“It’s just the regulatory process and there’s no way around it,” he said. “It’s jumping over hurdles.”

Ciaburri and his father, Joseph Ciaburri, who is chairman of Southern Connecticut Bancorp, opened their first de novo bank, the New Haven-based Bank of Southern Connecticut, about two-and-a-half years ago. The bank has been successful – securing more than $50 million in assets and more than 400 businesses in its commercial portfolio by the time it was 20 months old – but instead of opening a Bank of Southern Connecticut branch in New London, the father-and-son team decided that the tiny coastal town needed its own bank.

“There’s a void in hometown banks,” the younger Ciaburri said.

The two recognized the void that the Southeastern Bank of Connecticut could fill before they opened the first bank, Michael Ciaburri said. Although there are branches in the town, New London does not have its own bank. Fleet, Citizens Bank and Middletown-based Liberty Bank have branches there, according to the Department of Banking’s Web site.

“We’ve always wanted to have a presence from New Haven right up to Rhode Island,” Michael Ciaburri said.

The bank could someday open branches in Rhode Island, he said.

The Bank of Southeastern Connecticut is planned for 15 Masonic St. and also will have a board of directors based in New London, Joseph Ciaburri told The Commercial Record last August.

The Ciaburris recently presented their plans to the community with a PowerPoint presentation. About 100 people showed up to see what the new bank was all about.

“It’s been great,” Michael Ciaburri said. “We’ve been well-received by the New London community.”

He hopes the Department of Banking will award the bank its temporary charter, which would allow organizers to raise capital, soon. After that, the law gives organizers 18 months to raise the capital and open the bank, but Michael Ciaburri doesn’t think it will take that long.

“It’s not going to take us anywhere near that amount of time,” he said.

They expect to raise $15 million through a stock offering at once. Between $6 million and $7 million will go to the Bank of Southeastern Connecticut; the balance will sit in the holding company for future investments. The process of raising the capital can take 90 days, so Ciaburri hopes to have the money in June.

Although most of the plans for the new bank are falling into place, some details need to be worked out. The Ciaburris want to open branches in Groton and Waterford, but haven’t yet found locations.

The organizers also have made preliminary plans to become partners with the Mashantucket Pequot Indians, who operate three credit unions in the area. But that hasn’t been worked out yet, Michael Ciaburri said.

“We’re still in discussions with them,” he said.

But with or without the tribe’s cooperation, the Bank of Southeastern Connecticut should open on schedule.

“It’s not contingent upon them,” Michael Ciaburri said.

Ciaburri and his father are both experienced in the financial industry. Michael Ciaburri owned an investment banking company, Ciaburri & Co., for 11 years before beginning full-time work to start Southern Connecticut Bancorp. The New Haven-based Bank of Southern Connecticut opened in October 2001.

Joseph Ciaburri, started the Bank of New Haven in 1979, which he later sold to Citizens Bank when he retired.