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Sterling's Freedom Bank bought by Iowa company

Bank expected to merge with Rockford bank in ’14

Freedom Bank, which has branches in Sterling and Rock Falls, has been acquired by an Iowa-based holdings company.

Heartland Financial USA Inc., through its flagship bank, Dubuque Bank and Trust Co., took control of the Sterling-based Freedom Bank last week.

No jobs will be lost in the deal, and the bank will look to add jobs, said Pam Topper, president of Freedom Bank.

Freedom Bank was previously owned by River Valley Bancorp Inc. The transaction has been approved by regulatory authorities and the River Valley Bancorp board of directors, according to a news release.

Freedom Bank’s locations in Sterling, Rock Falls and Seaton, Ill., will operate as independent subsidiaries of Dubuque Bank and Trust until at least the first quarter of 2014, according to the release.

Additionally, Heartland Financial will apply for regulatory approval to consolidate Freedom Bank with Rockford’s Riverside Community Bank.

Riverside Community Bank is also owned by Hearland Financial, and the holdings company prefers for its operations in the same state to be consolidated, said John Berg, vice president of marketing and retail banking for Heartland Financial.

The holdings company also owns Galena State Bank and Trust Co., but no decision about consolidating it with the two others has been made, Berg said.

For local business and retail customers, the deal will mean new lending and cash management services and deposit, fraud prevention, and investment products, officials said.

The deal will get Heartland Financial closer to its goal of having $1 billion in assets in each state where it has operations, Berg said, adding that details and terms of the acquisition were not being released.

According to the company’s website, it owns banks in 16 states, including Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.

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