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Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - 12:19pm

Ga. Banks Look For Rebound In '11

From Ellijay through Atlanta to Vidalia and the coast, it’s been another tough year for Georgia’s banks. 21 have closed in the state, making it the second-worst in the nation for bank failures, according to FDIC data. But some analysts see brighter skies in 2011.

One of those is Brian Olasov, a real estate and banking expert with Atlanta-firm McKenna, Long and Aldridge, who says Georgia is "mostly through the problem.”

Olasov says working through the real estate collapse has been more difficult in Georgia because of the state’s economic and population growth since 2000.

Now he says, banks have been getting aggressive -- modifying loans or writing them down through foreclosure, and hitting the street trying to attract new capital:

“I think a number of community and regional banks in Georgia have tried all of the above. And we’re seeing that the pace of the resolution has been picking-up the last couple of quarters. That’s a very positive sign.”

Olasov does warn that the recovery road is littered with hiccups still to come. But he says, for the banks "the sooner the banks can clean-up their non-performing loans, the faster they’ll get back to making good, prudent credit extensions to deserving borrowers.”

Georgia’s 21 combined with Florida’s 29 accounts for about a third of all bank failures in the U.S. this year.