Olympia-based Heritage Bank is putting the move on Clark County, both literally and figuratively.
Signs bearing the business bank's name were recently hoisted to the seventh floor of Vancouver's downtown Vancouvercenter, marking Heritage Bank's soon-to-be southern regional headquarters at the corner of Eighth and Washington streets. The office, six floors above the bank's only local branch, will soon be joined by an east Vancouver branch to be built next to Gustav's restaurant along Southeast 164th Avenue.
Leaders of Heritage Bank, which moved into the area after acquiring Bay Bank in 2010, plan to continue purchasing banks in Portland and Clark County.
"That's based on our view of the economic vitality of the area," said Brett Bryant, the bank's market executive for the southern region.
Its assets of roughly $1.4 billion afford Heritage the opportunity to challenge its bank competitors in Clark County, where business lending has suffered since the Bank of Clark County's failure in 2009.
In part, that's why Heritage leaders see Vancouver as the key point in the region, which stretches from Castle Rock south to Wilsonville, Ore.
"Our 10-member board met with about 20 community leaders here," before making a site selection, Bryant said.
Board members foresee business here serving:
• Wind-energy companies importing components through the Port of Vancouver.
• Financial firms expected to locate near the new Fisher Investments' campus in Camas.
• Health care businesses that will want to cluster near regional hospital system PeaceHealth's new Vancouver headquarters.
"The decision PeaceHealth made to come to town is going to be a wonderful, seismic event for Clark County," Bryant said.
He said Heritage Bank's asset base is almost double the size of the only remaining Clark County-based bank, Riverview Community Bank. Heritage's assets also are nearly double that of the former First Independent Bank, which was purchased by Spokane-based Sterling Bank this year.
Sterling Bank is one of Heritage Bank's main competitors, said Bryant, 53, a former executive with Bank of America and First Independent in Vancouver.
"About 60 percent of our (Heritage Bank's) lending goes to small- to mid-sized companies," he said.
Bryant said about 20 employees will report to the new downtown office, opening in November on the seventh floor of Vancouvercenter.
The 11-story building has residential condominiums on its four highest floors, office space on the second-through-seventh floors and ground-floor retail space, said Tamara Fuller, a vice president and broker with NAI Norris Beggs and Simpson.
Fuller, who brokered the deal to lease seventh-floor space to Heritage Bank, said the commercial tower is about 80 percent occupied.