5 Star Bank staking its claim on defense contractor loan business

5 Star Bank is providing the financing for The O’Neil Group’s purchase of 6 N. Tejon St.,the former Chase Bank building.

It’s one of the largest deals for the local bank, and CEO Mike League hopes that it is only the first of many between his bank and defense companies.

“We’re dependent on the Department of Defense in Colorado Springs, it’s more than 40 percent of our economy,” he said. “And we need to help those companies — the medium sized companies like Braxton and the smaller ones — succeed. It helps us all.”

The O’Neil Group owns Braxton Technologies. Braxton will be the company using much of the space at the downtown building.

Reports from Congress that are threatening deep cuts to the Pentagon, mean that Colorado Spring businesses might need more financial help — and Five Star Bank wants to be the one to provide that help.

“There’s a tremendous amount of non-prime activity in this town,” League said. “The big ones get the contracts — the Boeings, the Lockheed Martins — and then pass down some of the work to smaller companies.”

He’s aware that the success of those smaller companies means success for his bank.

“Every company started out as a smaller company — so Lockheed was once a Braxton,” he said. “That means that we can help them get there — and that’s good business for everyone.”

League is noticeably proud his bank was chosen for the financing deal for the new building. The corner of Pikes Peak and Tejon has a long history for banks.

“Since the 1800s, there’s been a bank on that corner,” he said. “And we’re glad it’s not going to be a mostly empty building any longer.”

5 Star plans to leverage the deal into other government and defense contracting work. League believes his bank — one of a handful of locally owned banks — is ideally suited for the world of government contracting.

He said the state’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center, headquartered in the Springs, gave both his bank and other defense companies a hand.

“Do you know how much money that center has brought into the state?” he said. “Millions. Hundreds of jobs. This is an opportunity for our bank, but there is also opportunity out there for other companies, thanks to the work they’re doing.”

As for the $5.2 million Braxton deal, League believes it’s the only the first of many such deals for Braxton.

“They have a considerable base of employment — and they’re growing,” he said. “We’re proud to be a part of that.”