Banking: The return of lending, finally

In spite of all of the national turmoil in the industry, community banking in Northern Colorado is looking up, according to industry veterans.

Banking has been on a slow upward trajectory, with a few bumps in the road, for most of 2012 and continued positive economic news should allow community banks to improve even more in 2013, according to Gerard Nalezny, chairman and co-founder of Verus Bank of Commerce.

The Niobrara oil play, increased activity in Old Town Fort Collins, the revitalization of Foothills Mall and home price appreciation in Greeley are just some of the economic factors that are giving bankers hope.

“Community banks move in concert with the economy,” Nalezny said. “We’re deeply tied to the community. The increased activity (in various sectors) creates more wealth, which means more deposits and more loans.”

The best news for business owners is that banks appear ready to lend again.

“Lending is up in Northern Colorado,” said David Bruni, Northern Colorado market president for US Bank. “I’m seeing a more robust and competitive lending market.”

Bruni’s bank in particular has been doing a lot of real estate and commercial and industrial loans, and plans to continue expanding its portfolio in the year ahead. In addition, the bank is seeing many loans to companies related to the oil and gas industry as well as real estate investors.

Though Bruni and others are more confident about the local economy, they expressed some concern about the influence of national politics on Northern Colorado.

“(There is still) too much uncertainty. Politicians run on credibility and businesses run on confidence.  Unfortunately there’s a shortage of both right now,” Bruni said.

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR
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