It’s not a new idea, but in an area dominated by big, out-of-market banks, opening a de novo community bank is somewhat unique.

“It’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel,” said Mark A. Candido, president and chief executive officer of Quinnipiac Bank & Trust Co. in Hamden, which has scheduled its initial public stock offering for early next month. The state Department of Banking granted the bank its temporary certificate of authority earlier this year.

The bank will be in an area where there is a dearth of locally operated community banks. The Bank of Southern Connecticut is in nearby New Haven, but the region is dominated by large regional banks like Bridgeport-based People’s Bank and NewAlliance Bank, which is the result of the merger of several community banks.

That has left small and medium-sized businesses without a financial institution that caters specifically to them, Candido said. The large banks in the area fill a role because, by virtue of their size, they tend to target larger businesses for loans. But that can leave smaller businesses – particularly ones that may have had credit glitches in the past – without service as personalized as they like.

‘Definitely a Niche’
Because Quinnipiac Bank & Trust will have a local board, local businesses can call board members directly. Although the bank is not planning on taking big risks, there is more room to look closely at more aspects of businesses and the people who run them, Candido said.

“You can try to make something happen,” he said.

That ability to be nimble with decision-making and to cut out some red tape is one of the greatest competitive advantages of community banks, said John Carusone, president of the Hartford-based Bank Analysis Center.

Smaller banks also can tailor products for people who may have had a credit glitch in the past, but who need help, Candido said.

“We’re not reinventing banking. We just believe because we’re going to be small [we can cater to community businesses],” he noted.

Candido added that he believes the big banks actually help to create business because they target larger clients, and that there is room for everyone in the market.

“There’s definitely a niche for them, and there’s definitely a niche for us,” he said.

That is a common view of organizers of de novo banks, Carusone said. People already in community banking, however, often see a market that has increasing complexities and competition.

But there are opportunities in a town like Hamden for a new community bank, he added.

“Finding a niche market where consolidation has created an opportunity for a new community bank is key,” he said.

There has been a lot of bank consolidation there, and an influx of out-of-market banks.

“It’s a fairly vibrant area, commercially,” Carusone said.

And that segment of the market is not being adequately served. If Quinnipiac Bank & Trust can differentiate itself and find its segment of the market, it will do well. There are challenges, though.

“I think they have their work cut out for them,” Carusone said. “The competition is formidable.”

Candido and the other organizers are hoping the bank can open its doors in the next 12 to 15 months. Much depends on the initial stock offering in April.

“The timeline sort of hinges on that always,” Candido said.

The organizers plan to raise between $10.5 million and $13 million, and are confident in their ability to raise the money, he said.

The bank now has a temporary office at 2600 Dixwell Ave. in Hamden, but organizers are looking for a permanent site along that same street.

Candido and his partner, Richard R. Barredo, who will be the bank’s vice president, both worked as senior managers at the Bank of New Haven until it was bought by Citizens Bank in 1997.

Quinnipiac Bank & Trust is among four banks in organization in Connecticut. The Bank of Greenwich recently opened its initial stock offering to the public, and the Darien Rowayton Bank and New Haven-based Higher One Bank – which will operate accounts connected to college identification cards – are both organizing under temporary certificates of authority.