"While I cautiously anticipate a few more quarters with a risk of higher charge-offs and credit uncertainty, we seem to be on the downward slope of this extended and painful credit cycle. While we cannot control the overall economy, we have consistently and forcefully addressed its impacts on our business. Our often stated goal is to be among the first to exit this economic calamity in the strongest possible condition. That remains a primary focus.
"Despite approximately $67 million in new loan originations this quarter, total loans outstanding remained essentially flat as loan growth was met with reductions of $54 million from loan prepayments, normal amortization and sales. Quality commercial loan demand remains difficult to identify. Nonetheless, the new business opportunities that we are seeing appear to be among the best that we have enjoyed in recent times. It is our expectation that commercial loan demand will remain tepid until improved sales activity led by end user demand picks up. Without meaningful private sector job creation, we believe economic expansion will remain a frustrating illusion and growth prospects will be constrained for an extended period marked by elevated disinflationary risks and high unemployment levels.
"We continue to evaluate the outcomes from recent banking legislation. New standards and regulations are on the horizon and it is unclear at this time what their impact will be on the community banking industry. The longer term certainty is that this industry will bear significantly increased compliance costs and a higher cost of capital. Consequently, it seems inevitable to me that banking industry consolidation will accelerate as these demands increase. We are well prepared to capitalize on this opportunity.
"Management believes that the Company will be in a position to begin TARP repayment in 2011. We are evaluating several alternatives that would allow the Company to begin the redemption process in a manner consistent with our previously stated desire to carefully weigh and protect the financial interests of our shareholders in any such redemption. With a tangible common equity ratio over 7% and Bank level capital ratios significantly above the regulatory well capitalized minimums, the Company is operating with a very strong capital base."