Chris Annas is newest inductee into Chester County Hall of Fame

PHOENIXVILLE — The Chester County Hall of Fame has a new member. Chris Annas, Meridian Bank founder, CEO and chairman of the board was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Chester County Economic Development Council during an event Wednesday, May 18.

“I’ve worked with Chris almost my entire career in Chester County spanning 46 years, and I can tell you, firsthand, that he demonstrates extraordinary quality of leadership, community participation, as well as compassion and commitment to his profession and his employees,” Gary Smith, Chester County Economic Development Council president and CEO, said of Annas’ induction. “Chris empowers others. He also has the ability to unearth potential in the businesses he encounters, as well as the people. He has built a great, hands-on institution that gets transactional business accomplished.”

More than 400 people attended the annual event, held at the Phoenixville Foundry. Annas was recognized for his “indelible mark” on the county’s banking sector, including more than 30 years of banking service to thousands of local businesses as well as Meridian’s more than 300 employees.

Among Annas’ achievements, Smith recalled a collaboration with Chester County Economic Development Council on a solution for what would become one of Chester County’s largest employers — CTDI.

“This was the 1980s and up to this point, we were never able to combine federal and state financing programs to develop growing businesses,” Smith said, adding the two worked together to introduce CTDI to a new loan program called the SBA 504. “With it, CTDI was able to move into its first facility that it built from the ground up. We cut new ground, and it rippled across the Commonwealth.”

Annas is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Meridian Corp., headquartered in Malvern. Founded in 2004, Meridian is a $2 billion bank with more than 20 offices across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Florida.

Annas grew up in Minneapolis, before moving to Berwyn at the age of 15 and playing rugby for Conestoga High School. His family had roots in the Philadelphia area, with his father from Norristown and his mother a graduate of West Catholic High School. Annas recalls working at the Thriftway in Paoli, Open Hearth Restaurant and as a bellhop at the Sheraton Valley Forge. He attended Penn State and helped pay his tuition by working 1,500 feet underground in a Wyoming mine.

Before starting Meridian, Annas was president, chief executive officer, and cofounder of Stonebridge Bank in West Chester. He also served as regional vice president of Summit Bank, where he led the company’s small business lending effort in the Delaware Valley. Annas also managed Summit Bank’s large corporate lending effort in Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey and its national media communications business.

“I’ve always enjoyed the entrepreneurial side of banking. We get to understand how companies get started, make money and impact their communities. We help them finance these dreams and then watch as they grow their business and become successful,” Annas said in a statement.

Annas’ service extends into the many philanthropic causes he has supported. He serves on the Foundation Board of Paoli Hospital and on the Community Bank Council of the American Bankers Association. He is a former board member of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry and of the People’s Light and Theatre Company.

“Three ‘Cs’ come to mind when I think of Chris,” Smith added. “Creative – he’s always going beyond the numbers to find a solution. Compassionate – he’s really attuned to the growth of a company and is a true advocate. Committed – if Chris is involved, then he is fully and completely committed.”

The Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) created the Chester County Hall of Fame Award in 1996 to recognize business and community leaders who have made contributions to Chester County’s economic health, according to information on the organization’s website. The award recognizes an individual’s leadership, business acumen, and  achievements within and beyond the Chester County business community.

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