First Niagra took over the HSBC Bank at the corner of Judd Road and Main Street last May. Despite Tuesday's downpour, a number of people from around the community stopped by the branch to welcome its staff to town during an open house organized by the Monroe Chamber of Commerce.
A spread of meatballs, stuffed mushrooms and other fare was catered by Vazzy's as visitors mingled over drinks.
"It's been great," bank vice president, Mark Zigmont, said of First Niagra's short time in Monroe. "We want to be involved in the community."
First Selectman Steve Vavrek was among the town officials in attendance.
"Obviously, this is another indication that big banks and other big establishments want to come to Monroe," Vavrek said.
Monroe Economic Development Commission Chairman Roberto Perez took part in the open house, along with fellow commissioners Teri Rotella and Paul Moyse. Former EDC chairman Lee Hossler also attended.
Tuesday evening's event was open to the entire community. Blanca Rodrigues of Monroe said she and her husband, Joe, have owned and operated Joe R. Masonry, L.L.C., in town for the past eight years.
"Being a local contractor, it's so important to see who else is here in town," said Rodrigues. "I want to join the chamber."
First Niagra was the marquis sponsor for Young Emerging Professionals' Pinktoberfest, a breast cancer awareness fundraiser hosted by the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Zigmont says the bank intends on being active with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce.
First Niagra is in the process of joining the town's chamber, according to Zigmont. He also said his bank wants to get involved with Junior Achievement.
Lyudmyla "Mila" Dmytrenko, a customer care representative with the bank, said she works with clients to find the types of savings, checking accounts and investments that meet their individual needs.
Kim Rodney, who is charge of commercial lending in Monroe, Shelton, Stratford, Wilton, Norwalk and Ridgefield, said First Niagra has already been lending to town businesses.
"We are truly a community-based bank," Rodney said. "The decisions on lending up to $12.5 million are made in New Haven."
Zigmont said First Niagra has one page applications for small business loans of up to $75,000, adding, "One of our mottos with First Niagra is: Simple, easy and fast."