HIGHLAND | Highland resident Alicia Pantoja was among a group of First Midwest Bancorp employees selected to celebrate the bank’s 30th anniversary by participating in the Nasdaq stock market opening ceremony Monday in New York.
Pantoja, a personal banker who marked her 25th anniversary with the company on Thursday, said the experience was memorable and exciting.
Pantoja watched and cheered on the indoor Nasdaq stage with other staff and managers as First Midwest Bancorp CEO Michael Scudder rang the opening bell signaling the start of the day’s trading activity.
“It was amazing to be part of the team that was chosen to go to the bell ringing,” Pantoja said. “It was my first trip to New York. It was exciting to see and tour Nasdaq and be part of all the excitement celebrating our 30th year.”
The First Midwest Bankcorp group met in their hotel lobby Monday morning to walk together to Nasdaq, which is in the heart of Times Square. At Nasdaq they were briefed and led to the stage, Pantoja said. The bell ringing is broadcast live on large video screens around Times Square.
Part of the excitement, she said, was the large crowds of people gathered by the “Good Morning America” and “Today” show studios. When the bell is rung everyone claps and cheers, she said.
After the ceremony the employees, their families and friends were treated to champagne and cake.
James Roolf, senior vice president of First Midwest Bankcorp’s corporate relations office said the event was a two-fold celebration.
“We have been in business for 30 years being approved by the Federal Reserve as a company in 1983 and very shortly thereafter we were listed on the Nasdaq stock market as a publicly traded company."
Roolf said the Bancorp management hosted a number of employees to participate in the event.
“We tried to look at people who had tenure in the company of 25 years or more,” Roolf said. “It was recognition of some outstanding employees and their contributions to our success.”
Roolf said the experience was both fun and important from a company perspective.
“You are in Times Square which is full of all these electronic message boards and video screens,” Roolf said. “You stand in the middle of 8th and 44th Streets. There are so many things going on around you. The 'Good Morning America' studio is right there so all the people are standing in front of the window watching the broadcast. With all the things that go on, it is an amazingly large city with a lot of energy.”
First Midwest Bancorp has about 95 offices located in Northwest Indiana, Illinois and eastern Iowa. In 2006, it acquired Hammond-based Bank Calumet for $307 million.