Baker Boyer to shutter College Place branch

The bank will consolidate the College Avenue operation with its branch on Plaza Way.

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Baker Boyer Bank will consolidate its College Place branch with its location on Plaza Way in late June, bringing closure to the College Avenue branch after 19 years, the company announced.

The client base in the community of around 9,000 people has not kept pace with increasing operating costs, Megan Clubb, Baker Boyer president and chief executive, said today.

Increasing federal regulations have added to the cost of delivering the Walla Walla-based bank’s signature customer service, she said.

“Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to grow the client base in College Place to a level where we could remain profitable,” Clubb wrote in a letter to customers that should be received today.

The branch will close June 28. It will be listed for sale afterward, likely in the latter part of this year, Clubb said.

She said the closure is not a reflection of the business climate in College Place, which has taken off with numerous retail and other developments in recent years.

Clubb said time and costs associated with a spike in federal regulations, particularly through the federal Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, has affected community banks disproportionately compared to the larger banks to which the regulations have been directed.

“We’re just needing to make choices,” she said. “And we really want to make sure we have efficient operations without sacrificing our personal customer service.”

None of the four employees at the College Place branch, 630 S. College Ave., will lose their jobs. Branch Manager Sharon Gowdy and Assistant Manager Jean Mulkey already share duties with Plaza branch operators.

Gowdy will continue as manager of the Plaza branch. Mulkey intends to retire in April. When she learned the Baker Boyer board had voted to consolidate after a meeting earlier this month, she opted to stay through the transition and depart when the branch closes.

Other employees will be offered positions at other branches, Clubb said.

Customers will have no paperwork or transition other than choosing which Baker Boyer branch they’d prefer to conduct their banking. Many clients use multiple branches, and a growing number are opting for online or mobile banking. Safe deposit boxes from College Place will be moved to the Plaza branch., 2.8 miles away.1

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