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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho bank, credit union expand into Spokane

By Virginia Thomas Journal of Business

Two southeastern Idaho-based financial institutions have moved into the Spokane area in quick succession.

Last month, Idaho Falls-based Bank of Idaho agreed to acquire five branches from Seattle-based HomeStreet Bank, including one branch in downtown Spokane. That transaction, which also involves branches in Kennewick, Dayton, Yakima, and Sunnyside, is to be completed by Aug. 1.

Also in May, Idaho Central Credit Union publicly launched its first branch in Washington state in the former Banner Bank building, at 41 W. Riverside Ave. in downtown Spokane.

ICCU purchased the 36,900-square-foot office building in November 2021 for $13.5 million for its Washington operations, its first of four planned branches here.

In September, the credit union – which is based in Chubbuck, Idaho, just outside of Pocatello – plans to open a branch in the Northpointe Plaza shopping center, in north Spokane.

Jeff Newgard, president and CEO of Bank of Idaho, said he previously worked for HomeStreet.

“I happen to know the market well, so I know what we’re getting into,” Newgard said. “Eastern Washington lending opportunities and banking opportunities perfectly align with the kind of banking we do. It’s reentering the market for me, personally.”

Manny Hochheimer, ICCU’s assistant vice president of Washington branches, said there’s a great deal of “cross-pollination” between northern Idaho and Eastern Washington.

“Ultimately, expanding our field of membership to include Washington was a strategic move that allows us to offer our products and services to more people in the Northwest,” he said. “We already had many members in the area, and since we’re a full-service financial institution, it just makes sense to have branches here that are available to help them.”

Both Newgard and Hochheimer contend Washington-based customers don’t care where a financial institution is headquartered; they’re concerned with what the institution does for them.

“The name, the logo – people don’t bank with that,” Newgard said. “People bank with their banker. That’s where that trusted relationship is critical.

Bank of Idaho aims to create an “intermountain regional bank” and could acquire additional Washington branches as part of that strategy, he said.

“Even though (real estate costs) have increased, we still may see purchase opportunities,” Newgard said.

Spokane is growing, Hochheimer said, and financial institutions will harness some of that growth.

“You’re going to start seeing a lot of this regional banking for financial institutions, specifically for credit unions, where they’re going to expand either organically or through mergers and acquisitions,” Hochheimer said. “There’s so much going on in Spokane.”

ICCU has more than 517,000 members, about 5,100 of whom are located in Spokane County.

Newgard said that small- and mid-size commercial lending is Bank of Idaho’s forte.

“We can go over $20 million in loans, but our sweet spot is in that $10 million to $15 million range,” Newgard said. “Within the space that we’re going to offer small business loans, we’re going to be extremely competitive.”

As of March 31, Bank of Idaho had $767 million in assets, total loans of $434.7 million and more than $687.8 million in total deposits.

That was up from 2021’s assets of $625.2 million, loans of $422.1 million and deposits of $555.3 million.

Newgard said Bank of Idaho expects its assets will grow by about 20% this year.

Hochheimer said that among bankers in eastern Washington, good will toward each other typically runs high.

“The financial industry here in Spokane plays really well together,” Hochheimer said. “The tone has been set well by the leadership at these financial institutions to do what’s ultimately right for the community.”