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Dan Hansen
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In an agreement subject to regulatory approval, STCU is poised to acquire four branch locations from Banner Bank. Target date for the hand-off is June 24.

[february 23, 2022]

The branch locations include one each in Chewelah, Colville and Kettle Falls, Wash., and a fourth in Hayden, Idaho.  Along with the properties, STCU would also acquire the deposit accounts for about 8,000 Banner clients, who would become STCU members.

STCU would offer positions to employees at the Banner locations.

On Wednesday, the two Washington-based financial institutions filed applications for approval with all applicable regulatory agencies: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; the National Credit Union Administration; the Washington Department of Financial Institutions; and the Idaho Department of Finance.

Based on recent experiences in other conversions, STCU and Banner anticipate a successful approval process. Regulators generally find that consumers are well-served by regional banking organizations.

“Once approval is granted, we will make this conversion as seamless as possible for Banner Bank clients,” said Ezra Eckhardt, STCU president and CEO.

Eckhardt noted that the three Washington branches are in Stevens County, where STCU has 3,000 existing members. The Banner acquisition would help meet their need for a close-to-home STCU location.

The Hayden branch would beef up STCU’s service to residents of rapidly growing Kootenai County, where STCU currently has four branch locations.

“While members are increasingly turning to digital tools like the STCU mobile app for everyday transactions, a face-to-face visit remains foundational to the STCU experience,” Eckhardt noted.

Banks and credit unions offer many of the same services. If the transaction is approved, the new STCU members will find that their Banner deposit accounts align well with similar accounts at STCU. Like Banner, the credit union offers an array of savings and lending products, home loans, rewards and conventional credit cards, and more. As with banks, credit union accounts are federally insured.

STCU also serves businesses and public agencies, with commercial real estate and business loans, credit cards, lines of credit, and loans for new equipment, vehicles, or inventory. Businesses also turn to the credit union for cash management tools.

The primary difference is one of structure. STCU is a not-for-profit cooperative that is owned by members, who elect a board of directors.

If the agreement with Banner is approved, STCU would grow to 38 branch locations in Eastern Washington, Tri-Cities, the Columbia Basin and North Idaho. While the credit union continues to experience healthy growth, acquisitions are an efficient way to serve members without constructing new branches in communities outside its traditional footprint.

The current proposal would be the fourth time in as many years that STCU has acquired members, employees and accounts through friendly agreements with other financial institutions.

  • In 2019, STCU acquired deposit accounts when Banner closed its branch in Sandpoint Idaho, to better focus on other locations.
  • In 2020, the credit union acquired four Umpqua Bank branches, members and employees in Medical Lake, Ritzville, Othello and Coulee City, Wash.
  • Last year, STCU merged with Coulee Dam Federal Credit Union, rebranding its five branch locations as STCU. Those locations are Coulee Dam, Omak, Brewster, Creston and Republic, Wash.

In each case, most employees accepted positions with STCU, providing the credit union with season staff who know their communities and many of the members walking through the doors.

About STCU

Founded by educators in 1934, STCU has been voted the region’s best credit union for 16 consecutive years by readers of the Inlander newspaper. The credit union’s 264,000 members live in all 50 states, accessing their accounts through a network of nearly 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide, and through online banking and the STCU mobile app.

STCU employees enjoy a full suite of benefits, including a generous 401(k) match, health insurance, robust in-house leadership training, tuition reimbursement, paid time off for volunteerism, and more.