NORWAY – What was once a hub of retail now bustles with transactions of another kind.

Norway Savings Bank moved into its new operations center in the old Aubuchon and J.J. Newberry buildings in downtown Norway three weeks ago, consolidating its back-office operations into one location.

“We were getting pretty crowded in our main office,” said Stephanie Healey, spokeswoman for the bank. “Now we’re giving our employees a better working environment and positioning the bank to grow.”

Norway Savings is already the sixth-biggest Maine-based bank, with total assets of $880 million. It serves more than 30,000 households in Western and Southern Maine through its 21 branches and its Web site.

The move brings together about 35 employees who are responsible for information technology, human resources, deposits, finances and training. Platz Associates of Auburn and Bancroft Contracting in South Paris renovated 15,000 square feet of former retail space, taking care to preserve the original buildings’ distinct character. The hardwood floors, brick walls and tin ceilings are incorporated into the modern office space.

The operations center also contains the original board table from Maine National Bank, which was given to Norway Savings Bank in 1956.

The public is invited to see the renovated space at an open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. A ceremonial ribbon-cutting is set for 5:30 p.m. Refreshments and door prizes will be offered.

The bank is working with the Western Maine Art Group to display artwork year round in the operation center’s windows along Main Street.

This April, the bank reported one of its strongest first quarters ever, with earnings up 15.3 percent over the same period in 2007 ($2.16 million compared to $1.87 million). Residential mortgages grew by 18.4 percent in the same period and total assets increased 6.9 percent from March 2007. The bank also hired 10 new employees in the past year.

Founded in 1866, Norway Savings Bank received a Best Places to Work award in 2007 from the Maine Council of the Society for Human Resources Management.

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