ENTERPRISE — When Umpqua Bank in Enterprise merges with Columbia Bank next year, it won’t be just a corporate merger; an Enterprise native will be at the helm.

In fact, Clint Stein already is the president and CEO of Columbia Bank, and while his career has taken him away from Wallowa County, he stays in touch.

“I keep track of what’s going on in Wallowa County,” he said.

Stein said he is still in contact with some from his growing-up years. He recalls teachers and coaches who are still here and was pleased to see the return of Tom Crane as interim superintendent. Crane was Stein’s junior high basketball coach in the mid-1980s.

“They taught you how to work hard but (were) supportive at the same time,” he said. “When you’re connected to Wallowa County, it’s nice to see people who were part of your life years ago.”

He also recalled people who have stayed here and prospered, such as Lance Homan, superintendent of Joseph Charter School. Homan was a freshman when Stein was a senior in high school.

“It’s nice to see someone go from being a kid to being a leader in the community,” Stein said.

A native

Stein was born in Enterprise, while his wife, the former Julie Findley, was born in Newberg and moved to Lostine at 4 years old. They both graduated from Enterprise High School, Stein in 1990 and Julie in 1992.

After college, Stein returned to Enterprise. He worked for several certified public accountants and eventually became a CPA.

Julie got her start in banking at what was then Pioneer Bank — the building that now houses Umpqua Bank.

“That’s the building where she started her banking career and it’s where I had my first bank account as a kid,” he said.

Stein left Enterprise in 2005, but hasn’t forgotten what he learned here.

“It’s a great place to grow up. I enjoyed it as a kid and when I came back from college and started my work career,” Stein said. “I think the lessons you learn in a small town have served me well. … A town like Enterprise, there’s no anonymity. You’re accountable to your neighbors. Small-town values continue to drive me and how we lead the bank today.”

The bank

According to the Columbia Bank website, on Oct. 11, the bank’s board of directors approved the agreement to combine Columbia and Umpqua banks. Stein said that it will take several months to complete the state and federal regulatory processes and receive approval for the merger.

“We’re anticipating sometime the middle of next year,” he said. “That’s kind of our target.”

He said he anticipates little change in the Enterprise bank. The sign won’t change and there aren’t likely to be any job losses. If anything, Umpqua Bank will offer more. He said he anticipates the merger with Columbia will allow Umpqua to offer additional banking products and services.

Stein is eager for the merger to take place.

“I’m excited about the entire combination,” he said. “We’re the two premier banking franchises in the Northwest. I’m excited about the Enterprise location because that’s my hometown.”

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Bill Bradshaw is a reporter for the Wallowa County Chieftain. Have a business tip? Contact him at 541-398-5503 or bbradshaw@wallowa.com.

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