The headquarters for a new addition to the Augusta area banking community is one of several new businesses taking root in Columbia County.
The leaders of Augusta First Bank and Trust had growth on their minds when they decided to locate their headquarters on Washington Road near Mullins Crossing, bank President and CEO Tat Thompson said.
"We feel like this is the center of the universe right here," Thompson said. Augusta First is part of Columbus, Ga.-based Synovus, a holding company with more than $32 billion in assets.
Augusta First was founded about a year ago with a branch on Wheeler Road and temporary offices on Davis Road. The bank moved into the new 11,000-square-foot headquarters at the beginning of May.
It includes the headquarters for Synovus Mortgage and offers insurance and wealth management services, Thompson said, adding the company plans to open additional branches in the future.
Dino Dakarus, the owner of Dino's Chicago Express, plans to open his second restaurant in the new Shoppes at Camelot shopping center across from Wal-Mart in Evans. He said work on the new restaurant should be completed in time for a scheduled opening the third week of June.
Dakarus said he picked the site based on growth trends and high traffic from Wal-Mart shoppers and traffic to Clarks Hill Lake.
"I think the No. 1 thing every business is looking for is growth," he said. "The growth is moving that way and you have the biggest draw in all of Augusta in Wal-Mart."
Dino's new shop will be larger, with about 50 seats inside and room for about 15 diners outside, he said.
Dakarus said business at his Furys Ferry Road shop has boomed since the road construction project finished last year, and plans are in the works to begin finding franchisees for additional restaurants.
Work is continuing on other sites in the Shoppes at Camelot center, including a Georgia Bank and Trust branch.
Sonia Hanson, the vice president for marketing with GB&T, said the company plans to open an extended-hours branch in mid-July.
GB&T Senior Vice President Angie Morales said the branch, which will employ seven, will offer a full range of services.
"Everything we do at the other branch we will be able to take care of at this branch," Morales said.
Hanson said the nearby Ronald Reagan Drive site will not close.
Other businesses that recently opened in Martinez-Evans include a Jiffy Lube on Baston Road near Furys Ferry Road and Audio Asylum, a car stereo equipment shop on Washington Road in Evans.
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