Spokane-based Sterling Savings Bank plans to hire about 100 people in coming weeks to work in its headquarters here, and is negotiating to lease about 30,000 square feet of additional space downtown to help accommodate that growth.
The expansion is being driven by Sterlings impending acquisition of Klamath First Bancorp Inc., a Klamath Falls, Ore.-based financial institution that has more than 50 branches, says Heidi Stanley, chief operating officer of Sterling Savings. That $147 million acquisition is scheduled to be completed Jan. 2, she says.
About 10 to 20 people are expected to transfer to Sterlings headquarters here from Klamath Falls, but the remainder we will have to hire, and well be hiring locally, Stanley says.
The jobs will be located throughout Sterlings head-office and back-office operations, including loan servicing, marketing, human resources, facilities management, and information technology, she says.
Almost every department has an impact, Stanley says.
Sterling doesnt have room for all of those new employees in its headquarters facility, at 111 N. Wall, so the bank is negotiating with a downtown property owner for an additional about 30,000 square feet of space, she says. Stanley declines for now to disclose the location Sterling is considering, but says, We will have those people housed downtown, which should help the economy.
In addition to the 100 additional workers coming to Sterlings downtown operations, the bank probably will hire another 50 or more people throughout its system next year to accommodate the growth that Klamath brings us, Stanley says. Many of those jobs will be in commercial banking.
Because Klamath brings with it a significant amount of deposits, it allows us to increase our lending throughout our market areas, therefore were having to hire business bankers throughout our system, she says.
Klamath Firsts deposits totaled about $1.1 billion as of Sept. 30, the end of the companys fourth fiscal quarter, and it had assets of about $1.5 billion at that time.
Sterling Savings had deposits of $2.4 billion as of that date, which was the end of the Spokane banks third quarter, and assets of $4.1 billion.
So you can see whats happening, Stanley says, its not a doubling in size of our company, but were increasing it by about a third.
The acquisition of Klamath First also will result in the hiring of 350 people who currently work in the Oregon-based banks 52 branches, Stanley says.
About 130 head-office and back-office jobs at Klamath will be eliminated as a result of the acquistion, she says.
Currently, Sterling employs about 1,200 people, about 450 of whom work in the Spokane area.
Once the combination of the two banks is complete, Sterling will employ about 1,700 people. It now has 84 branches in Washington, Idaho, Montana, and northwestern Oregon.
The acquisition of Klamath First will give Sterling a statewide presence in Oregon, Stanley says.
Sterling Savings expects to continue growing in the Spokane area, even though about 55 percent of its revenue is derived from customers along the Interstate 5 corridor between Seattle and Portland, she says.
We will continue to add to the what I call back-office or head-office staff to support the growth thats going on in our company, she says.
The bank is discussing where its operational employees will work, she adds.
Asked if Sterling is considering buying or leasing additional facilities here, Stanley says, We have lots of options and were looking at several alternatives at the moment. Its something we have to discusswho needs to be downtown and who doesnt.
Sterling operates a processing and operations center on the West Plains, another in Tukwila, Wash., and is in the process of establishing a third such center near Portland, Stanley says.
Its been a busy couple of years for our company, she says.
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