FLORENCE — There is a bit of a new look to the iconic downtown SunTrust Bank building, but you'd have to go to the Seminary or College streets sides to notice.

Long-Lewis banners are being added to the top of the building this week, signifying a major addition to the building, and a decision from Long-Lewis Ford to have its company headquarters remain in the Shoals.

Don Ouellette, chief information officer for Long-Lewis, said the company is establishing its home office in the building and hiring approximately 20 new corporate positions in the process.

"We're really growing," Ouellette said. "We had to make a choice of where to establish our corporate headquarters. We're expanding across the state. We didn't choose Birmingham. We didn't choose Huntsville. We chose to stay in the Shoals."

Oullette said Family Ford has several companies along with its Florence and Muscle Shoals dealerships. It employs nearly 400 people locally and plans to continue to expand.

Long-Lewis has some 700 employs statewide.

"We have a very strong commitment to the community," he said. "The whole structure is changing in the automotive industry. We're actually buying up select markets. We have quite a few other interests in companies we partner with."

Marty Abroms, who along with Bill Lyons purchased the 118-foot-tall South Court Street building in 2015, said SunTrust is not impacted by the addition of Long-Lewis, and the bank agreed to allow the Long-Lewis signage.

"SunTrust Bank is still our anchor tenant, but as part of it on the College and Seminary sides, they were nice enough to give up those sides."

He said Long-Lewis is leasing a large portion of the third floor of the seven-story building.

"Long-Lewis has made a long-term commitment to the Shoals not only in auto investments, but additional investments as well," Abroms said. "It just means more people getting hired for the Shoals."

He said the new banners will complement the existing SunTrust banners.

"It'll blend well with the building and downtown area," Abroms said. "It'll change a little bit of the landscape with the downtown. We know it's a highly visible sign."

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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