Opus Bank may be a newcomer to downtown Tacoma this fall, but the institution is already singing high notes for the operatic saga of the financial industry future in the South Sound.
“Opening in Tacoma is totally logical given where we are versus where we we want to be,” said CEO Stephen Gordon. “The site has a very high visibility and the right amount of square footage right in that corridor in which we want to be.”
“If you consider that we’re all up and down the I-5 corridor through our acquisition of Cascade (Bank), it’s completely logical for us to be in downtown Tacoma,” Gordon added. “We’re predominantly in the suburbs, so we’re expanding more deeply into the heart of the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue-Puget Sound region.”
Indeed the site, at 950 Pacific Avenue within the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce building, is one that received high daily traffic, both pedestrian and via transit. The branch, a shade under 2,400 square feet in area, will employ four bankers and is slated for a July 1 open.
“And then as far as how many jobs will be created,” Gordon said, “we have a whole ripple effect as a result of financing those businesses that are expanding and growing.”
Primarily a business bank specializing in funding capital to small and large commercial businesses, entrepreneurs, real estate investors and professionals, Opus invested more than $1 billion in such companies last year. Gordon said that he expects the numbers to be greatly higher for 2013.
“We’re driven by businesses all through the community that need a banking partner to start or expand,” he said. “Also, we come from a perspective of wanting to put more capital back into the market.”
As for why businesses should choose Opus as a partner when compared with other banks, Gordon said that owners are “tired of the big banks,” and that the company’s entrepreneurial-driven mission and business owner-based staff make the institution particularly well-qualified to work with small and medium businesses.
“Normally you would think of ‘entrepreneurial banking’ as an oxymoron,” he said. “But most of us have had businesses of our own, so we’re essentially a company of entrepreneurs who are looking to provide more of that.”
Added Debbie McLeod, Opus executive vice president of retail banking, the new office is the company’s first in Tacoma’s core business district, and its 23rd in the region.
“We are continuing to strategically expand our network of banking offices in major metropolitan markets,” she said.
Of Tacoma specifically, Gordon said that businesses such as State Farm looking towards the downtown core solidified the city as an emerging location where Opus wanted a foothold.
“We’ve grown from zero to north of $3 billion in total assets over the course of two and a half years,” Gordon said. “We’ve grown from zero locations to 52 up and down the entire West Coast. We’ve grown from zero bankers to over 500 bankers up and down that corridor. Going into a market that’s starting to become vibrant such as Tacoma and occupying real estate space that was previously vacant, it all plays into exactly what’s going on in the economy in the region, which is confidence, rebuilding and expansion taking hold.”