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Cascade Bank formally makes the change to Opus

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By Mike Benbow
Herald Writer
EVERETT -- Cascade Bank of Everett has officially become Opus Bank, celebrating Wednesday with an event for employees and donations to two local charities.
"Cascade has been around for nearly 100 years and has been very committed to the community," Opus chairman Stephen Gordon said, adding he wants Opus "to start really making a difference and having an impact."
With the Opus purchase of Cascade completed, the company contributed $1.5 million to its charitable foundation. It gave an unclosed amount of that money Wednesday night to Clothes for Kids and to the Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County.
In the coming weeks, it will announce donations to 10 more charities, said Carol Nelson, the former Cascade chief executive who will be president of the Washington region of Opus.
California-based Opus is working quickly to create a regional bank in the West, said Gordon, an investment banker. Opus started with $700 million in assets and five locations. Its acquisition of Cascade added 22 locations. By October, it should have $3 billion in assets and 43 locations, Gordon said.
He said the bank is committed to expanding its presence in Washington and is hoping to bring the number of the former Cascade's locations to closer to 50 in the next few years.
"We're going into the castle," he said. "We're going into Seattle."
He said he also hopes to "fill in the three counties and to expand in the north, south and west."
Gordon said he is looking for more acquisitions in Washington as well as planning expansions. And he also said he won't lay off former Cascade employees as part of the deal.
"We're not cutting any employees," he said. "None."
"There are 220 employees, and they're all still working," Nelson said. "We want to add jobs to this market. We're looking to expand our call center."
Gordon noted that Cascade was a troubled financial institution that had been under government restriction for the past year.
"It's great to be back in business," Nelson said.
Gordon said the banking community these days has institutions with money and others that are still hurting financially.
"Banks are still licking their wounds to a great extent," he said.
He said he hopes the money Opus will add to a troubled Cascade will help it regain former clients and win some new ones.
"We're committed to loaning to credit-worthy borrowers," he said. "We're in a position to do interesting things with our clients. It appears to me there's good business to be done, and we want to do it."



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