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Two deals help raise profile of local bank

AmericanWest will boost assets by half

AmericanWest Bank completed a blockbuster week that saw the Spokane-based lender finish the purchase of a small California bank and strike a deal to buy an Oregon bank that will increase its assets by 50 percent.

AmericanWest has been aggressive after shaking off financial troubles from several years ago and is now broadening its lending reach along the West Coast.

The proposed acquisition of Medford, Ore.-based PremierWest Bank’s $1.2 billion in assets requires regulatory approval. Kelly McPhee, AmericanWest director of communications, said bank executives anticipate quick approval to pave the way for the deal to be closed early next year.

As part of the transaction, AmericanWest will quickly pay down PremierWest’s $41 million debt to the U.S. Treasury as part of that bank’s participation in the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

AmericanWest never participated in the controversial bank bailout program.

The PremierWest deal would add 32 locations to AmericanWest’s existing 75 branches.

The takeover of Ontario, Calif.-based Inland Community Bank brought AmericanWest into the Southern California market.

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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.