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ChoiceOne - A Shared History of Local Community Banking

With only $15,000 in capital, Sparta State Bank was incorporated in 1898.  After purchasing a lot in 1902 for $1,200, the main bank office opened to the public on the corner of Division and Union Streets.

Meanwhile, the nearby Kent City Banking partnership had started up with an initial $10,000 in capital, and in 1910 became the corporation known as Kent City Bank. 

Fast forward almost a century and these two small town banks would join to become the ChoiceOne of today.

Decade after decade both these community banks held steady to their mission; experiencing remarkable successes even throughout the depression.  

The middle of the century was a time of advancement, including many renovations and the addition of the first drive up windows.  Around this time, Sparta State Bank consolidated with the People’s Bank of Sparta. 

The following 70s and 80s were a period of growth and innovation.  The first ATM machines were installed, and several new branches of Kent City Bank opened in Ravenna, Egelston and Sparta.  It was at this time that Kent City holding company changed its name to “Valley Ridge Financial Corporation”.  Subsequently Kent State Bank merged with Grant State bank, resulting in “Valley Ridge Bank”.

In the 90s, 24-hour, automated phone banking was introduced for the first time.  Valley Ridge branches continued to open in Coopersville, Grant, Newaygo and White Cloud.   Meanwhile Sparta State Bank opened its first branch office, a couple miles from its headquarters, in Sparta, followed by more branches in Cedar Springs, Plainfield and Alpine.  In 1996, the Sparta State Bank holding company and its subsidiary bank both took the name “ChoiceOne”.  At this time, ChoiceOne Insurance Agencies was established.

Technology continued to advance in the early 2000s with new imaging systems to replace the outdated proofing machines.  Electronic management services were made available to retail and commercial customers for the first time. A branch of Valley Ridge opened in Fremont while a ChoiceOne branch opened in Rockford. ChoiceOne continued to expand its offerings as ChoiceOne Mortgage was established.

In 2006 ChoiceOne Financial Services and Valley Ridge Financial Corp came together along with their subsidiaries, all retaining the “ChoiceOne” namesake.  This merger resulted in 14 branch offices, numerous ATM locations and a widened array of products and services to serve west Michigan communities. 

More than a century later, we have not lost sight of our small-town roots.  Our commitment to customer care and community building are still among our top priorities today. Employees are ChoiceOne Bank ambassadors at the forefront our commitment to our local communities.  Because our employees live, work and volunteer within the neighborhoods we serve, they truly know and care for our clients. From the Annual Rockford Ice Festival to Kent City Fire Works to YMCA Golf Outings to support the kids in our neighborhoods, and the many other organizations listed below, ChoiceOne continues to work hand-in-hand with communities to support West Michigan families and businesses.

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