An area bank is expanding its footprint in Rochester by building a second branch.

F&M Community Bank, which has branches in Preston and Chatfield, has filed plans to build a 16,000-square-foot branch on an open piece of land on the west frontage road corner of US 52 North and 19th Street Northwest.

This will be its second branch in Rochester. It opened its first branch here at 2768 Superior Drive NW in 2015. F&M has about 10 to 12 employees in Rochester.

Bank officials say they hope to break ground for the branch yet this year. The project is in the early stages of the Rochester permitting process.

F&M CEO Dan Christianson said that changes in the area banking landscape are what attracted F&M to the Rochester market in 2015.

"We saw an opportunity when Eastwood Bank sold to Bremer Bank (in January 2015)," he said.

F&M describes itself as a community bank specializing in personalized customer service and working with small businesses. Eastwood Bank was also a locally owned community bank that flourished in smaller towns as well as Rochester.

After Eastwood was acquired by the much larger Bremer, F&M leaders saw a niche open up that they believed they could fill with the help of former Eastwood/Bremer bankers.

"We're a smaller bank relative to some of the others in Rochester, but I think we'll be able to work with smaller businesses that don't fit as well with the bigger guys," Christianson said in 2015.

Biz buzz

Call me crazy, but chatter among the culinary crowd is that a popular area Mexican eatery might be cooking up a plan to fill a recently emptied restaurant spot in the near future.

I'll keep an eye on this tip to see if there's any fire under this cloud of smoke.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street. Send tips or questions to jkiger@postbulletin.com or at 285-7798.

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Business Reporter

Jeff has worked at newspapers as a reporter, columnist, editor, photographer and copy editor since 1992. He started at the Post Bulletin in 1999. Kiger is the PB's business reporter and writes a daily column, "Heard on the Street."