The Bank of Western Massachusetts, whose headquarters in Springfield, Mass., are shown above, is hoping to open its first Connecticut branch in Enfield later this year.

A 19-year-old Massachusetts bank is making inroads into Connecticut with a plan to open a new branch in Enfield in the spring.

“Connecticut is a natural progression,” said Tim Crimmins, president and chief executive officer of The Bank of Western Massachusetts.

The Springfield, Mass.-based financial institution filed an application with the Connecticut Department of Banking on Jan. 20 to open a branch at 49 Hazard Ave. in Enfield, about 10 miles from its headquarters.

“I think it’s a logical extension of their franchise,” said John Carusone, president of the Hartford-based Bank Analysis Center. Growth opportunities in western Massachusetts might be limited at the moment, so Connecticut is a desirable place to expand. Northern Connecticut, in particular, is viewed by some as an attractive market to penetrate.

There are already a number of community banks in northern Connecticut, but some growth opportunities remain, according to Carusone.

“[The Bank of Western Massachusetts] is another community competitor and the marketplace is crowded,” he said.

Enfield itself has shown growth.

“Enfield clearly has exhibited demonstrable, dynamic commercial growth,” Carusone said.

Although the bank operates as a community bank, with all its decisions made by local boards, it has been a member of the Burlington, Vt.-based Chittenden Corp. for 10 years. The company runs five banks in New England and several other financial services groups in the United States and Canada.

The Bank of Western Massachusetts originally was founded as an independent commercial bank, but Crimmins said he believes that being a part of a $6 billion parent company, while still maintaining independence at the local level, gives its customers the best of both worlds.

The bank provides retail and commercial banking services, and has investment services designed to help large or small investors with personal trust accounts, asset management and brokerage services.

‘A Lot of Similarities’

Crimmins said he hopes the bank’s current locations’ proximity to Enfield will help with name recognition. He expressed confidence that, despite the fact that the bank’s moniker highlights its Massachusetts roots, the bank will find success in Connecticut. The 12-branch bank, which serves nine towns in western Massachusetts, has a number of customers that either live or work in Connecticut, so the expansion into the Constitution State will make banking more convenient for them.

“We have a number of our customers in that area,” Crimmins said.

The timing is right for the expansion, and the demographics fit in with the bank’s customer base. The bank is coming off one of the best years in its 19-year history, Crimmins said.

“We feel we have the initiative to continue to grow this franchise,” he said.

The expansion into Connecticut from Massachusetts is also logical because the two states share similar regulatory environments, Crimmins said.

“There are a lot of similarities there,” he said.

Crimmins said he expects the new Enfield branch to open sometime in April or May. The 3,000-square-foot space is located near Route 91 in a strong retail area, he said.

The bank is also planning the opening of another branch north of Hartford. Crimmins said he hopes a land lease will be signed within the next 35 to 40 days, adding that he could not reveal the specific location until then. That branch will take longer to open than the Enfield branch because it will involve the construction of a brand-new office.

The Chittenden Corp. is involved in traditional banking, targeted acquisitions and specialized businesses, according to its Web site. Its other banks are the Chittenden Bank of Burlington, Vt.; Flagship Bank and Trust of Worcester, Mass.; Ocean National Bank of Portsmouth, N.H.; and Maine Bank & Trust Co. of Portland, Maine.

It also operates the National Pension Service (NPS), Chittenden Insurance Group and Chittenden Securities, all of Burlington, Vt.; Mortgage Service Center of Brattleboro, Vt.; and Chittenden Commercial Credit of Montreal, Quebec, according to the Web site.