Refreshing Outlook in Butte County

As a community business bank based in the Capitol Region, we spend a lot of time talking about what is happening in and around Sacramento. Since we opened the Redding Business Office in 2008, Five Star Bank has made some great strides in the Northern Valley including Shasta, Tehama, and Butte Counties. North Valley Region President Eric Woodstrom guests blogs this week about some of the great things going on in the Chico(Butte County) market.

Eric WoodstromI recently had the opportunity to attend the Chico Economic Planning Corporation’s (CEPCO) 27th Annual Excellence in Business Awards. I have to tell you, it was a great event. Now you can say that about many of the business events we attend each year, but this one had an energy and excitement that stuck with me.

The award ceremony took place in the Bell Auditorium at CSU, Chico and showcased several local business success stories in industries as diverse as technology, software development, manufacturing, agriculture, education and health care. Among other  awards Chico Bag was honored with the “CEPCO Game Changer Award”, Fifth Sun with the “Excellence in Manufacturing Award”, Brian Pierce was honored with “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” and Digital Path, College Scheduler and Maisie Jane’s with the “GLOBIE Businesses to Watch Awards”.  The difference at this event was, not only were past success celebrated, there was real energy on the spirit of possibility… of a very real and bright future for the region. It was refreshing to be among a group who were looking ahead instead of focusing on the economic gloom and doom that is all too easy to get caught up in.  It is evident that this region is making things happen.  From light manufacturing to software design and development, I observed youthful energy and optimism, and a can-do attitude that will need to be present in all industries as we move forward into a recovering economy.

Perhaps the reason this evening had such an impact on me is that this positive energy and focus on what’s possible is what’s at the core of Five Star Bank.  We are a can-do organization. We get things done. As 2011 draws to a close, I am energized and ready to tackle the challenges of 2012 with a renewed enthusiasm. Really, we all are at Five Star Bank. I hope you are too.


Eric Woodstrom
North Valley Region President

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Go Local! It Works For Banking Too!

The “go local” movement seems to be sweeping the country and it’s certainly prevalent in our local community. We are encouraged to eat local, give local, shop local, etc. on a daily basis. It’s a rally cry that should be applied to banks as well.

Think about it … the idea behind going local is shifting focus toward sustainability, community, and what it takes to create a good place to live.  Community banks are no stranger to this type of thinking. These ideas are what banks like Five Star Bank were founded upon. The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) has officially announced a “Go Local” banking campaign and Five Star Bank is proud to support it.

By banking locally, community members can make a real difference in the lives of their neighbors and the future of their community. It’s a chance to make a hometown investment you can be proud of.  After all, the money deposited into community banks will be reinvested in ways that drive our local economy, like loans to local residents who wish to buy a home or to small business owners who are looking to open shop. Benefits that come with banking with a community bank include: a relationship-based banking experience, superior customer service and the pride that comes with reinvesting in one’s community.

As a small business ourselves, we only thrive when our customers and communities do the same, so taking care of our customers and looking out for the best interest of our community is ingrained in the way we conduct business each and every day. And when our customers call us, they do not end up talking to someone halfway across the globe.  Instead, they speak with someone who lives and works in the same community they do.

According to the ICBA, community banks fund nearly 60 percent of all small businesses under $1 million.  By driving local economies and creating local jobs, community banks are an integral part of our financial system and play a key role in our nation’s economic recovery.

The next time you choose to spend your money shopping at the local farmer’s market, or at the “mom and pop” shops for the holidays in your effort to “go local,” why not do the same with your banking business and take “going local” one step further?

James E. Beckwith
President & CEO
Five Star Bank

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Todd Sorensen Joins Our Business Development Team

Todd SorensenFive Star Bank is pleased to announce that Todd Sorensen has joined the organization as a Senior Vice President, Business Development Officer. He will work out of the Sacramento Business Office located at 2400 Del Paso Road. Sorensen is charged with developing loan and deposit clients as well as providing private banking and wealth management services in the communities of and surrounding Sacramento.

 A native of the Sacramento region, Sorensen currently lives in Sacramento’s Land Park area and comes to Five Star Bank with an extensive background in financial services. Sorensen has worked in banking since 1995 holding positions in commercial banking and wealth management for various national and regional financial institutions.

“Few banks want to handle a corporate client’s business concerns and, at the same time, handle the executive’s personal needs without sending them to another group,” said Sorensen. “As a seasoned commercial and private banker I have a unique advantage to serve both types of clients simultaneously and Five Star Bank has the wherewithal to handle it.”

At the same time, Five Star Bank knows its niche and isn’t trying to be everything to everyone,” he said. “It concentrates on selected core competencies and does them really, really well.” 

 “I am pleased with the growth path that Five Star Bank has traveled in the past few years and I know Todd’s addition to our team will help ensure that we continue to build upon our great foundation,” said James Beckwith, President and CEO. “He’s a talented individual and we’re glad to offer our clients another resource to help move their businesses forward.”  

Sorensen holds an M.B.A. and a B.S. in Finance and Management from California State University Sacramento. He currently sits on the board of directors of Sacramento Child Advocates and coaches basketball at Holy Spirit Parish School.

Sorensen can be contacted at 916-640-1510 or via email at

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United Effort Will Drive The Next Economy

Introducing the "Next Economy" Project

As the president and CEO of local business, I believe it is my duty to do all I can to help foster economic growth in our region.  Some may say that is easier said than done, talk is cheap, etc. I’m proud to report that distinct and meaningful action is being taken to create a regional jobs plan that will help us move forward with shared vision and a common goal. It is rarely what we do on our own but what we do together that makes the greatest strides.

On Friday August 26, I had the pleasure of speaking at this year’s 16th Annual Sacramento Metro Chamber’s State of the Region event. There, I introduced the Next Economy project. This will be a collaborative, regional effort that will focus creating jobs.

Spearheaded by four local non-profit economic development organizations; the Metro Chamber, SACTO, SARTA, and Valley Vision, each organization plays a unique role. The Metro Chamber will serve as the “voice of business,” SACTO will drive business recruitment and economic development, SARTA will embody the regions entrepreneurial spirit, and lastly Vision Valley will be the voice of regional planning and execution.  The Next Economy project brings these organizations together and will end the days of a siloed approach to economic development.

The project has four phases and began in late-May. Phase 1, the start-up phase, has been completed.  The next phase is projected to be completed by the end of 2011, and consists of gathering data to identify our regional strengths for strategic economic growth.  Phase 3 will include extensive community outreach to evaluate the regions opportunity for capital investment.  Lastly, phase 4 will be the publication of our Next Economy Regional Prosperity Plan.

In the end, the plan will have empirical evidence of what will work to turn our economy around and clearly laid out steps to help us get there.

You will hear more about this effort in the coming months as we report on progress and research outcomes. I invite and encourage all public and private sector leaders to join the effort, to roll up your sleeves, and be a part of a project that will turn our regional economy into a shining example of not only economic prosperity, but also what can be accomplished through true collaboration and united vision.

For more information, please visit the Next Economy website here or contact me directly at

James E. Beckwith
President and Chief Executive Officer
Five Star Bank

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Notes from New Orleans … a Study Mission Wrap Up

Five Star Bank’s Mike Rizzo joined the Sacramento Metro Chamber on their trip last week to New Orleans as part of the annual Study Mission program. Below is his recap of the trip.  

What will be Sacramento’s catalytic moment? Katrina was the catalytic moment for New Orleans. The city had seen declining population since the 60s. Today’s population is only about 450,000. It also had one of the poorest populations in the nation and an education system that was failing. Cronyism and systemic political corruption was rampant.  

Abandoned House in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward

Katrina wiped the slate clean in 2005.  Human capital and financial capital poured into the city. The people who had become so reliant on their government were pushed to make change when their government failed them. Seems that nobody knows exactly how much money poured in, but amounts between $40 Billion to $100 Billion were referenced, of which New Orleans received most … a lot of money by any measure.

People had the option to rebuild with a goal of bringing things back to the way they had always been (easy to do in a city so proud of their culture and place in history) or use the money to make change. They chose the latter. Talented community leaders as well as talented leaders from throughout the country and the world converged on New Orleans.

Still a work in progress, great strides have been made. The levees have been repaired, government has been restructured (to a degree), and the education system is completely restructured (70% of elementary schools are now charter schools with a goal of having 100% charter schools). Entrepreneurs are engaged and have attained business success as well as the support network necessary for their success including venture capital. They’ve created a bio wet lab to incubate and commercialize TWO research universities – Tulane and Louisiana State University.

View From a Balcony on Bourbon Street

Perhaps most striking to me was the spirit and sense of pride of the people of New Orleans, evident in the fact that a city of only 450,000 can support two major professional athletic franchises – the Saints and the Hornets AND that EVERYONE knows the selling points for their city … so they can talk with ANYONE about why you should relocate there.

I have to admit, before going to New Orleans, I was not terribly excited about our pick of cities. Over the last four days, it was easy to see why it’s no longer the Big Easy. Today, they get things done with a sense of urgency I have not witnessed before.

And there’s still the French Quarter…

What is Sacramento’s catalytic moment? If it’s not this recession I don’t know.

Mike Rizzo
Senior Vice President
Commercial and Emerging Business Banking

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Let’s Get Excited About Action Rather Than Talk

First off, let me say that I too think a new Arena is something this city needs. I’m afraid, however, that news about the Arena project overshadowed another and, in my opinion, more important development from Tuesday night’s Sacramento City Council meeting.

At that meeting, the city council approved Ygrene Energy Fund to handle the city’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. I had the honor of speaking to the City Council to argue in favor of this deal. And it’s a big deal. The projects that will fall under the PACE program have the potential to bring thousands of jobs to our area. Not to mention the fact that they will get the commercial buildings in this city up to the highest green standards. Melanie Turner did a great write-up for the Sacramento Business Journal here.

Ygrene and local partner Octus, Inc are going to lead us into the future with this program. I’m excited about that and I think the rest of us should be too. Here’s why: This isn’t just talk. This is action. When we discuss ways to move this city forward, THIS is what needs to come out of it. This project has the potential to be the biggest thing to happen to Sacramento’s building infrastructure since we raised our street levels to protect from flooding before the turn of the century.

Perhaps it’s not as sexy as the Arena project, but this project has the possibility to greatly impact how well we weather the economic storm we find ourselves in. It’s something we should get excited about.

James E. Beckwith
President and Chief Executive Officer
Five Star Bank

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FDIC Remains Financially Strong in the Face of U.S. Debt Concerns

Member FDICIt looks like a debt deal will be reached before tomorrow’s deadline and our country will not default on its obligations. While this is good news it hardly solves all the problems that our country faces and in the coming weeks we’ll read and hear more about it than most of us care to.

In case you are wondering how all this affects your FDIC insured deposits with a community bank like Five Star Bank, I thought I’d share the fact that the national debt ceiling is completely unrelated to FDIC insurance coverage.

The FDIC, an independent agency fully funded by banking industry premiums, is financially secure and has the resources it needs to protect customer deposits. Eighteen months ago banks paid to the FDIC three years of assessments — totaling nearly $46 billion — to assure the agency had the necessary funds to protect insured depositors. It has sufficient cash on hand today to meet its needs for the foreseeable future.

According to the American Bankers Association, the banking industry remains committed to making sure the FDIC has the resources it needs to protect insured depositors, and this commitment is independent and unrelated to the how the debt ceiling discussions are ultimately resolved. The banking industry’s capital — $1.53 trillion — stands behind the FDIC to assure it remains strong.

An FDIC spokesman Friday confirmed the agency’s strong financial position. “The FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) has more than adequate liquidity, currently more than $44 billion, to meet all of our deposit insurance responsibilities,” he said. “The FDIC receives no federal tax dollars — insured financial institutions fund the DIF.”

James E. Beckwith
President and Chief Executive Officer
Five Star Bank

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