Bank of the Cascades integrates Bank of America branches

Bank of the Cascades has positioned itself to step up the competition for commercial and mortgage lending customers in Oregon.

The Bend-based bank, whose footprint extends into Idaho and Washington, has integrated 15 former Bank America branches into its fold, including three in Jackson (one of which is in Ashland, on Ashland Street at Tolman Creek Road) and Josephine counties. While the deal announced last fall means a lot for Bank of the Cascades, the nation's second-largest bank quietly packed its briefcases and left town.

President and Chief Operating Officer Chip Reeves said the acquired branches fit into Bank of the Cascades' push for a larger share of the commercial and mortgage lending activity in communities of fewer than 100,000 people.

"Our strategy and desire is to be Oregon's dominant community bank," Reeves said. "We believe there was a void created as Umpqua grew into a regional institution."

The acquisition vaults Cascades to No. 4 in market share among Jackson County's FDIC banking institutions, with deposits approaching $250 million. In Josephine County, Cascades is now No. 2.

"Jackson and Josephine counties are our type of markets," Reeves said, noting the bank has added three additional small business and mortgage lenders for the area.

Bank of the Cascades was founded in 1977. Like many financial institutions, it struggled through the Great Recession, but had regained its previous high-water mark of $2.5 billion in assets prior to the Bank America deal. With its new branches, including offices on Stevens Street and West Main Street in Medford, and Ashland Street in Ashland, Cascades' assets are now $3.2 billion.

Bank of the Cascades is also the fourth-largest bank in the Boise/Treasure Valley area and has commercial lending operations in Portland and Seattle.

Looking ahead, Reeves said his bank will look to grow organically rather than through acquisitions in the short term.

"At this point, our board of directors wants us to grow into a $5 (billion) to $7 billion dominant Northwest banking franchise," he said. "Our investors, both institutional and private equity, are supportive of that."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31

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