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Feds lift cease and desist order on Business Bank

Business Bank, which is headquartered in Burlington and has a branch office in Bellingham, has changed its name to SaviBank.
Business Bank, which is headquartered in Burlington and has a branch office in Bellingham, has changed its name to SaviBank. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald\

A local community bank has fully recovered from the financial meltdown from six years ago and is ready to consider growing again.

Business Bank, which is headquartered in Burlington and has a branch office in Bellingham, is no longer under a cease and desist order from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The bank had been under the order since September 2009, limiting what it could do and receiving tight regulatory scrutiny.

The order was lifted after the bank raised more than $12 million in a recapitalization campaign and was able to shed distressed loans dating back to the real estate downturn in 2007 and 2008, according to a company news release.

The company also announced it was changing its name to SaviBank.

The lifting of the order allows the bank more flexibility in how it does business, said Mike Cann, chairman and CEO of the bank, in a phone interview. This includes more leeway when it comes to setting its own interest rate pricing and opening new branches.

“We’ve been playing defense for the past four years, so now we can play offense,” Cann said.

The bank had 40 items to meet to convince the FDIC to lift the order, and meeting the capital requirement was one of the last. The bank had a variety of capital campaigns in recent years, with the last one ending in September 2014. The first campaigns were done to prevent the bank from being closed by regulators.

The bank’s troubles revolved around bad construction and land development loans, similar woes experienced by many other Washington community banks when the real estate bubble burst.

As part of its fresh start is the new name. SaviBank (pronounced “savvy-bank”) was picked because it embodies the bank’s mission to be savvy advisers, Cann said, adding that the Business Bank name was confusing to some people who thought it focused only on commercial loans. The bank offers a variety of consumer loans, including for cars and homes.

“We just want to convey the idea that we have experienced people here,” Cann said, adding that as one of the few small community banks in the area, it also wants to focus on forming strong ties with clients.

Going forward, Cann said the bank plans to increase its marketing to become better known in Island, Skagit and Whatcom counties. It is also looking at expansion, including in Whatcom County.

With the name change, the bank also will be transitioning its website from businessbankwa.com to SaviBank.com.

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