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First Northern Bank moves into permanent location at Auburn Town Center

Grand opening week set for Feb. 14-18
By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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First Northern Bank is putting down roots in Auburn. The Dixon-based community bank, which has maintained an interim office on Bell Road since June 2008, will open a permanent branch Monday in the Auburn Town Center. The bank purchased the building previously occupied by Wachovia, according to Kimberly DeBra, executive vice president of corporate communications, sales and marketing. “Now we’ll move forward with getting an ATM and the (the building already has) safe deposit boxes,” she said. “We didn’t have that at the temporary location.” First Northern, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2010, caters to small and medium-size businesses. “That’s our specialty,” DeBra said. “Being closer to Downtown makes us more centrally located for all of Auburn’s businesses.” The building was already configured for banking, so it did not need many tenant improvements. “There are some things we want to do going forward to make it more progressive and modern,” she said. “We put in new glass offices for privacy and have repainted. Our signs go up Thursday.” The branch’s team members previously worked for Placer Sierra Bank. The staff is headed by Juanita Holmes, vice president of business services; Alida Martin, operations manager and Dave Davis, vice president of investment services. The ATM will be installed within the next month. “When we moved into Auburn, because we didn’t have ATM, we said we’d give our Auburn customers free ATM transactions wherever they go in the world,” DeBra said. The bank plans to continue that policy for Auburn customers even after the ATM is installed, she added. For grand opening week, Feb. 14-18, there will be free cupcakes daily with special sweetheart cupcakes Monday in a salute to Valentine’s Day, Holmes said. During the first two weeks, customers can register for a drawing to win an iPod. “It would just be great for the community to come out and see our new location,” Holmes said. At nearby Country Naturals, employee Dana Hobbs said she welcomes new businesses that potentially bring in more customers to the center. “I know that when we’ve lost businesses in the center, we’ve lost a lot of foot traffic,” Hobbs said. “So any new businesses are really exciting.” The store has been at that location since 1979. Hobbs’ mother, Sandie Neel, purchased it five years ago. The closure of Gottschalks and other stores at the center since then has had an impact, she said. McCaulou’s department store is scheduld to move into the former Gottschalks building later this year. Holmes is a member of Gold Country Rotary, the Auburn Chamber of Commerce ambassadors and the Auburn Faith & Fantasy Ball Committee. She also is working with the Boys & Girls Club committee planning for a summer celebration. The bank has also contributed to Auburn fire relief efforts and the Interfaith Food Closet. “(For our centennial), we compiled a cookbook of employee family recipes, sold them in each of our branches and donated the money to local food banks,” DeBra said. “We have an awards program for employees to get involved in the community.” The Bell Road office will remain open through Friday, Feb. 11. According to the website, First Northern Bank was established in Dixon in 1910. It has 11 branches located in Solano, Sacramento, Placer, Yolo and El Dorado counties. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com.