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Falcon Bank Donates to Habitat for Humanity (August 19, 2006)

Thursday, 02 December 2010

Falcon Bank Donates to Habitat for Humanity (August 19, 2006)

Falcon donates land to Habitat for Humanity's next project in Las Blancas Subdivision


Tierra Prometida - the Promised Land - may be a Biblical reference, but for 50 families living on Highway 359, it will soon be home. Habitat for Humanity of Laredo broke ground for the colonia alternative project at the intersection of Highway 359 and Judith Gutierrez Parkway on Friday with an audience of honored guests, volunteers and homeowners alike.
The10 - acre tract of land donated by private developers Dicky Haynes, Jesus Ruiz and Arnulfo Gonzalez will be the site for the Las Blancas subdivision, an ambitious project expected to provide 50 new homes for families who currently live in substandard housing. Falcon International Bank also donated a tract of land to Habitat for Humanity of Laredo for the purpose and construction of a public dedicated road (Judith Gutierrez Parkway) allowing access to the Subdivision from Highway 359.
Carol Sherwood, volunteer executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Laredo, emceed the ceremony, paying tribute to the dozens of individuals and organizations that contributed to establishing what was once merely a vision. Sherwood said that Habitat attempts to change the poverty that has virtually become a part of the modern landscape, and acknowledged both current and future Habitat homeowners.
"They above all others, are the most honored guests at this ceremony," Sherwood said, referring to the soon-to-be Habitat homeowners. "We want decent, wonderful families who will be good neighbors to each other."
Mario Elizondo, a current Habitat homeowner in another subdivision, said building his new home was an emotional journey and improved his family's quality of life.
"When they told us we were approved, we were so excited, we were crying, we were happy. I still remember that day," he said. "In the last five months we have been living in our house, and our lives have changed dramatically in a good way."
Elizondo described Habitat as a family he was proud to be a part of, and gave his own advice to the future homeowners in the audience.
"I just have on thing to say: enjoy every moment of building your house, and take a lot of pictures," he said.
Families eligable for the homes must put in 500 hours of "sweat equity," meaning family members approved for housingmust work on their own or another family's Habitat home in lieu of paying interest for the $40,000 to $50,000 homes.
"We have a great time with it and the families love it," Sherwood said.
Maria Gamez, a Habitat homeowner partner, said she has completed about 200 sweat equity hours toward her own abode.
"It's very nice to meet other people and to be working," she said, adding that she enjoys learning her new construction skills.
In addition to homeowners, Sherwood recognized others in the audience, including Commissioner Judith Gutierrez. Sherwood congratulated the commissioner, who was on hand for the groundbreaking in her precinct, and described Gutierrez as being "instrumental in the work for the colonias and the Habitat for Humanity."
Gutierrez said the area would be further developed after plans for a $1 million park project adjacent to the Self Help Center are complete; Haynes, one of the developers, said a Catholic Church should also be soon to follow.
Sherwood also credited Carlos Mejia, an engineer who donated about $100,000 worth of services to the project. The first street leading into the subdivision will be named Mejia Road, she said.
Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas, City Manager Larry Dovalina, Community Development Director Ronnie Acosta, Building Director Erasmo Villareal, Commissioner Jerry Garza and incoming commissioner Wawi Tijerina were among special guests recognized at the ceremony by Habitat for Humanity. Also recognized were representatives of HUD, Bethany House and the South Texas Food Bank.
Sherwood said about $800,000 had already been invested in Tierra Prometida from Habitat International and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant money, although the project still lacks about $300,000 for infrastructure development. She is confident the money will be raised.
"It doesnt take much to buy a door or a window wh en we put our pennies and nickels together," she said.
Construction of homes should begin by Jan. 1, 2007, she said, explaining the organization expects about 400 collegiate volunteers to aid in construction during an alternative spring break.
But Habitat always needs volunteers, Sherwood said.
"We know at Habitat we can make a difference, one family at a time," she said.

Falcon Bank Makes ICBA's Top Earners List (June 5, 2006)

Thursday, 02 December 2010

Falcon Bank Makes ICBA's Top Earners List (June 5, 2006)


Falcon International Bank was listed by the Independent Community Bankers of America as one of the association's top performers again. Please see below for more information.


[image pg. 63]

Measuring Performance

Thursday, 02 December 2010 (table, pg. 65)

Top Bank Earners

Thursday, 02 December 2010 (table, pg. 66)

Falcon International Bank Celebrates 20 Years (January 22, 2006)

Thursday, 02 December 2010

Falcon International Bank Celebrates 20 Years (January 22, 2006)

"It takes time to grow and in 2006 we're going to have our 20th Anniversary." (January 22,2006)


In 2006, Falcon International Bank will be 20 years old.

If the last two years are any indication of the financial institution's future, this year should be as good or better than the other two.

"We're very blessed," said Adolfo E. Gutierrez, president and CEO of the bank. "We're in a good place and I think that when you look back to look forward, I expect in 2006 the momentum that we started in 2004 and 2005 will be picking up. We know where we have been, we know what these projects are, and they are no longer a dream."

Gutierrez explained the changes as pent-up growth. With four new branches completed last year in Buda, San Antonio, Del Rio and Eagle Pass, he said the bank plans to open four more in 2006 in its current areas and McAllen.

"It takes time to grow and in 2006 we're going to have our 20th Anniversary," Gutierrez said.

Incredible Year

"2005 was an incredible year for us," Gutierrez said. "All the branches are running on all cylinders. We're looking forward to a good year."

Regarding Laredo's growth, Gutierrez stated that the bank's interest has been commercial lending.

"Our niche is construction spending and interim financing for home builders," Gutierrez said.

Most of the home construction has been with the major locally owned builders instead of larger publicly-traded organizations that have other financial resources.

Even with houses going $80,000 to $100,000, more people are getting their first homes, he said.

"They get the square footage down. That's how they become affordable. Most of them are starter homes. Four or five years later they step up to a bigger place," Gutierrez said.

"People can afford twice the home," he said.

Due to historically low interest rates on mortgages, those who resisted buying a home when rates were in double digits are more active in buying homes, he said. As the rates inch toward 10 percent, less people will risk even a first home.

More Services, More Employees

Gutierrez said the company gained employees as the bank grew in branches and services offered. Last year, he said there were 185 employees and at the start of 2006, 235 people are on the payroll. Expansion has been so rapid that a single human resource coordinator has morphed into a three-person department.

The latest technological services that equal those of any national bank have increased the IT department to a staff of eight.

A building originally planned to be another branch on the Bob Bullock Loop turned out to be a 17000 sq. ft. addition to its main office on McPherson. The building, which houses the insurance department along with the auditing department, opened late 2005.

"We've grown our insurance department into a large operation," Gutierrez said. "We offer all the lines of insurance."

Internationally, Gutierrez said Falcon is making a name for itself with a new office in Guadalajara, Mexico to complement its office in Monterrey. It is being one of the major players in multi-national trade along the border.

"This has been very positive for us," Gutierrez said.

FalconVest, the investment arm of the organization, based in San Antonio, has grown in volume.

"We offer brokerage and investment services," he said. "San Antonio also houses or trust services, which has grown 30 percent last year."

$20 million in deposit insurance

Promontory Interfinancial network said that Falcon International Bank, based in Laredo, has provided more than $100 million of Federal deposit insurance coverage to customers through Promontory's premier service, CDARS.

With CDARS, banks can offer a customer up to $20 million in Federal deposit insurance coverage. CDARS, or the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service, has been endorsed by the American Bankers Association.

Mark Jacobsen, President and COO of the Network, and a former FDIC chief of staff, noted, "The largest financial institution in the country cannot offer anything safer than CDARS. There are few guarantees in life – FDIC insurance is one of them. And with interest rates rising, CDs are becoming a more attractive cash management and investment option."

To offer CDARS, a deposit placement service, a bank must be a member of Promontory Interfinancial Network, a nation-wide network of more than 1000 banks.

When a customer places a large deposit with a network member, the bank arranges for the placement of funds into certificates of deposit issued by other Network banks – in increments of less than $100,000 to ensure that both principal and interest are eligible for full FDIC protection.

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