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After one bank closes, Idaho town announces plans for new one

The former First National Bank of Wallace building will house the town's newest bank later this year.
John Webb
The former First National Bank of Wallace building will house the town's newest bank later this year.

At the end of January, the only bank in the town of Wallace, Idaho, closed. Come spring, residents and business owners will again be able to conduct their business in person.

Mountain West Bank will open a branch in Wallace in May, the company said Tuesday.

“It’s wonderful news, and it’s an ideal bank for us,” Wallace Chamber of Commerce Coordinator Dave Copelan told SPR.

Mountain West President and CEO Scott Anderson said the move is a win for the company and the town.

“It offers Mountain West Bank an opportunity to expand our community footprint to serve the banking needs of businesses and citizens of Wallace and the surrounding communities of the Silver Valley,” Anderson said in a statement. “It also ensures Wallace will have a bank in town."

U.S. Bank said its choice to shutter the Wallace branch was partly a response to the trend of its customers moving away from in-person transactions and toward online and mobile banking. The decision left Wallace’s U.S. Bank customers without an easy way to conduct cash business. The nearest branch is in Pinehurst, a 30-mile round trip by Interstate 90.

Mountain West was established in Coeur d’Alene in 1993 and operates 21 locations in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. The bank is a good choice to establish operations in Wallace because it already has a relationship with the town, Copelan said.

“Several of our businesses here have business loans with them, and that’s one of the reasons why Wallace was attractive to them,” Copelan said. “So it was an easier transition for a bank like them to come to Wallace than someone who had never been here before, or didn’t have a relationship with businesses here.”

The Mountain West Bank branch will also connect to the town’s past. Its planned location, at downtown Wallace’s self-declared “Center of the Universe” intersection, is the First National Bank of Wallace building. It was built in 1916 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Work necessary to get the building ready to house an active bank include new signage, data and telecommunications equipment, and an ATM, Anderson said. Hiring a staff will begin later this month.

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for fifteen years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.