Today’s news:

Commerce Bank announces expansion into Queens

The bank that dubs itself “America’s most convenient” announced this week an aggressive expansion into Queens that will open five branches in the borough by year’s end.

Commerce Bank, a 30-year-old institution based in Cherry Hill, N.J., expects to open its first borough branch in May at the corner of Ditmars Boulevard and 31st Street in Astoria.

Additional locations at Metropolitan Avenue and 80th Street in Middle Village and Steinway Street and Broadway in Astoria will open this summer, while a Queens Boulevard branch in Elmhurst and an office at Northern Boulevard and Francis Lewis Boulevard in Auburndale are set to begin operating by the end of the year, Commerce said.

With 11 branches now operating in Manhattan and seven on Long Island, Commerce is planning a major expansion throughout the metropolitan New York area that would bring its 225 total branches up to 515 by 2007. The bank serves metro New York, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware.

Its expansion plans include 15 branch openings in Queens over the next five years. The bank said its goal is to eventually operate 400 branches in the New York metropolitan area.

Commerce’s hallmark is seven-day-a-week branch banking and free checking, services it touts as part of a consumer-centered approach that is bucking a nationwide trend against personalized banking.

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