Skip to main content

Charleston Business

A Banker's Steady Presence

By David Dykes

David G. Barnett, Greenville market president for Carolina Alliance Bank, sat in his North Pleasantburg Drive office recently, boxes lining the floor near his desk. 

He was supposed to retire April 1, “but when all this hit, it just didn’t seem right to leave my customers and coworkers right now, so I volunteered to stay on for at least a month to help see this through,” he says. “After that we will come up for air and see.”

He was referring to the devastating coronavirus impact, its toll on Main Street and debilitating effects on small businesses. 

On this Wednesday, there was work to be done. 

Led by a local president and local advisory board, Carolina Alliance is now part of the Park National family of community banks.

Last year, Park National Corp. (NYSE AMERICAN: PRK) and CAB Financial Corp. completed their previously announced merger transaction. With the merger, CAB’s subsidiary, Carolina Alliance Bank, became a community banking division of The Park National Bank, a Park subsidiary. 

Headquartered in Spartanburg, Carolina Alliance Bank had $760 million in assets (as of Dec. 31, 2018) and operated seven banking offices in the Upstate and western North Carolina.

Bank officials said Carolina Alliance would gain greater lending capacity as a division of The Park National Bank, helping it expand its service to commercial and small business customers. 

"As we grow, the advantages of this merger include a significantly higher lending limit, expanded range of products and services, enhanced capital base, and the ability to generate efficiencies, which we believe in turn will increase profitability," Barnett said at the time.

He has a bachelor’s degree in management from Clemson University and has quietly been a behind-the-scenes leader in Greenville and the Upstate. 

He started his banking career with Citizens and Southern National Bank, which later became NationsBank via a merger. He moved to First Citizens Bank of South Carolina, where he was executive vice president, before becoming president and CEO of Pinnacle Bank of South Carolina.

In 2006, Barnett was one of three longtime Greenville bankers who created Pinnacle Bank, backed by 88 shareholders who put $18.3 million into the new financial institution as part of a private equity offering.

He was joined by Jim Stewart, former Greenville market executive for BB&T, and David Weaver, who worked for Bank of America, BB&T and First Citizens. Another co-founder was Tommy Warren, who had been a CPA with a Big 8 firm in Atlanta and held various CFO roles.

In 2015, Carolina Alliance Bank, PBSC Financial Corp. and PBSC's wholly-owned subsidiary, Pinnacle Bank of South Carolina, said the previously announced merger of the two banks had been completed after receiving all shareholder and regulatory approvals. 

Barnett, a Greenville native, has been board chairman of the Innovate Fund, which has leveraged federal New Markets Tax Credit dollars to maximize the flow of private capital into some of the most economically depressed communities in South Carolina.

He also is president of the Greenville Local Development Corp., a somewhat under-the-radar economic development (not for profit) entity that has worked diligently over the years to foster economic development within the city of Greenville by making grants, loans and investments that are catalytic to