More 'Enterprise' coming to Lawrence Riverwalk

LAWRENCE — Several decades ago, Lawrence was home to a number of financial institutions, including the Arlington Street Trust Co. and the Essex Broadway and Lawrence savings banks.

Those banks have vanished, most having been absorbed by much larger entities, but banking appears to be working its way back in this city.

Last fall, Eastern Bank opened a branch on Essex Street. Eastern Bank President Richard Holbrook said at that time it was the first time a bank had established a new branch in Lawrence since 1988.

Now Enterprise Bank, based in Lowell, is about to enter the business of lending in Lawrence. Enterprise's newest office will be located in a two-story building under construction at 290 Merrimack St. The new structure is part of the second phase of Sal Lupoli's Riverwalk complex, which he said now has 200 companies that employ 3,000 people.

Lupoli said the building at 290 Merrimack St. will likely be ready for occupancy by November.

Jack Clancy, president and chief executive officer of Enterprise Bank, noted that his organization was started from scratch 23 1/2 years ago on Merrimack Street in Lowell.

"Now we're coming to Merrimack Street in Lawrence," he said.

Clancy estimated the new branch will employ 10 people initially and that number will likely grow, he said. At least some of those employees will be bilingual in Spanish and English, Clancy added, noting that he makes sure his branches have workers who speak whatever languages prevail in their neighborhoods.

Enterprise Bank offices in Lowell have employees who speak Spanish, Portuguese and Khmer, the language spoken by Cambodians.

Enterprise Bank, which has branches in Salem, N.H., Methuen and Andover, has been growing at a rate of 10 percent to 15 percent a year, Clancy said.

"We hope to put a few more branches in Greater Lawrence in the next five years," he said.

Lupoli, with whom Clancy signed a lease yesterday, said he views Clancy's bank as more of an entrepreneur than a lender. Enterprise Bank is willing to take a chance on someone with a solid business idea, he said.

Lawrence and other Merrimack Valley communities need more lenders with an entrepreneurial spirit, he added.

Pointing to the Riverwalk complex, where the corporate headquarters of his pizza chain and Salvatore's Italian Restaurant are located as well as other companies, Lupoli said he wants to create more jobs.

"All I care about is jobs, jobs, jobs," he said.

Clancy said Enterprise is a community bank.

"It's not about the transaction. It's about the relationship and helping businesses and individuals succeed," Clancy said. He asks every one of his employees to work according to the bank's mission statement: "The Enterprise Bank team helps create successful businesses, jobs, opportunities, wealth and vibrant, prosperous communities."

Employees are not only encouraged to be involved in their communities, they are actually evaluated on how much service they perform, he said.

The Riverwalk project was completely abandoned in 2004, Lupoli said. He mortgaged everything he had, including his company and his house, to invest in it, he said.

"I believe in Lawrence," Lupoli said.

By Paul Tennant  ·  July 14, 2012  ·  The Eagle Tribune