SPEER — The two branches of State Bank of Speer will merge with Morton Community Bank in the first quarter next year.

The Speer Bank location in the unincorporated Stark County community will be renamed Speer Community Bank, while the other branch in Peoria will fall under the Peoria Community Bank label in keeping with the naming practice used by other Hometown Community Banks facilities.

All existing employees will be retained.

"We believe in central Illinois and the Peoria area,” said Andy Honegger, president and co-CEO of Morton Community Bank, in a prepared statement. "We enjoy a strong and resilient business community, a stable housing market, and a can-do spirit that gets things done. A partnership like this one will bring additional strength and opportunities to the Peoria-area business community. In addition, our bank’s commitment to rural communities has never been stronger, and we look forward to demonstrating that commitment now to the residents and ag producers of Stark County."

The merger brings the total assets of Morton Community Bank to $3.6 billion.