A similarly named bank in the same geographic region turned out to be just too big a hill to climb for Alpine State Bank.
Instead, the new bank, the first in Idaho in some years, will be known as Bright Bank, said Mark Houston, president and CEO of the bank, in an email message.
“We’ve had a lot of internal conversation about the originality of the word ‘Alpine,’” Houston said. “We’re forward-looking with the longevity of our business, and part of that conversation is the fact that we want others to be able to distinguish our brand in the local and regional business community both now and in the future. There’s a bank in the regional market using similar verbiage in their naming, and we want to respect their identity while carving out our own. So, we pivoted.”
The bank, which announced in December that it expected to open its first Idaho branch in February, also found its plans disrupted by the COVID-19 coronavirus, Houston said.
“We almost made it to our branch opening in mid-March, but the virus hit and put everything on hold,” Houston said.
Nonetheless, the bank expects to open its new branches in downtown Boise in the Hoff Building at 8th and Bannock Streets and in Meridian’s Fairview Village on Fairview near Eagle Road soon, Houston said.
“We’re inching closer to opening our first branch here in Boise,” he said. “We are planning to open the Hoff branch mid-to-late June and our Fairview Village branch later this summer if all goes well.”
The bank also expects to open an additional branch in about a year, but Houston said he wasn’t able to reveal the location.
Despite the branches not being officially open, the bank has already been conducting business, offering loans through the Paycheck Protection Program from the federal government, Houston said.
“We actively participated in the PPP program to help local businesses keep and bring employees back to work,” Houston said. “It was personal to me, even though we weren’t fully open, that we help as many businesses as possible.”
Bright Bank is owned by the same parent company as Bank of Jackson Hole, based in Jackson, Wyoming, and Vast Bank, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The bank had published legal notices in October that it intended to apply to the Federal Reserve Board for permission to open the branch, and it received those permissions late last year.
According to public records, Bright Bank is leasing 6,273 square feet of space in the Hoff Building. Until last fall, that space was occupied by Mountain West Bank. Mountain West Bank moved out of the space to the previous First Security Bank space at 9th and Idaho, which had been occupied by First Interstate Bank, which in turn is moved to the Pioneer Crossing location at Myrtle and 13th.
Ironically, the Fairview Village location was also formerly a Mountain West bank branch.
Tenant improvements in the Hoff location included modernizing the main branch floor, In addition, the bank is taking space on the third floor for its private banking group, and on the 11th floor for the commercial banking office and support functions.
The bank had expected to start with five staffers and eventually expand to around 20, Houston said last year.
Houston served as senior vice president and regional private banking manager for Wells Fargo Private Bank for the five-state Greater Mountain Region and as senior vice president and regional manager of Idaho commercial banking for Bank of the West, as well as serving stints with Idaho Bank & Trust, US Bank, First Interstate Bank and Sterling Savings Bank.
Houston was one of three people who brought US Bank to Idaho in 1992, which had its headquarters located in the same space, he said.
“It’s interesting that my career has come full circle,” he said last year.-