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Housing and jobs, especially for our youth, are necessary for a strong business climate in southern Oregon, says People’s Bank president
Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneJulia Beattie is the new president of the Banque Populaire.
Editor’s Note: Community Builder is a periodic question-and-answer series offering the perspectives of locals who have been involved in significant changes in southern Oregon. Today’s conversation is with Julia Beattie, President of the People’s Bank.
Julia: Thank you. To have the opportunity to be president of the People’s Bank is a huge honor, and I am very touched. The People’s Bank was founded about 24 years ago. We have had the same chairman since the inception of the bank, Ken Trautman, who is also CEO. Being just the second president of the bank is an important responsibility, and I don’t take it lightly.
Q: Where did your interest in banking come from?
Julia: I have a solid background in community banking. My grandfather, along with five other gentlemen, started a bank in my hometown of Muenster, Texas called Muenster State Bank. It opened in July 1923. My grandfather was president, as was my uncle and now my cousin, Robert. My father served on the bank’s board of directors for several years. So community banking has always been a very important part of my life.
Q: What is the difference between community banking and general banking?
Julia: Community support, real community support. This is best illustrated by our efforts to support local businesses. When a business comes to us for a loan, sometimes we recognize that their real need is not what they originally thought. We want to be their advocate and respond creatively to their needs. Another distinction is the commitment to the community by supporting civic and philanthropic efforts. A community bank really tries to look for opportunities and to be fair in what they do for the community. Our effort on the payroll protection program was a recent example of our commitment to the community. PPP loans were federal small business loans provided during the COVID pandemic to keep employees paid and businesses afloat. Our bank made approximately 1,650 PPP loans in rounds one and two combined, for a total of approximately $ 141 million. Everything was on the bridge.
Q: What did it mean for businesses and nonprofits to have a PPP loan?
Julia: PPP loans were essential for many local businesses to stay open and continue to pay their employees. You don’t want businesses to be forced to close because of a very serious problem, but in the relatively short term. The stories are phenomenal. Without these PPP loans, companies told us, âI couldn’t have done it. Our local businesses and the community at large have seen the impact of our bank and other local financial institutions working diligently in their best interests.
Q: Tell us how the bank rallied around the victims of the Almeda fire.
Julia: A few days after the Almeda fire, Ken Trautman came up with the idea of ââcontacting our employees to see if they would be willing to donate part of their year-end bonus to an effort to combat the ‘fire. We had created a People’s Bank of Commerce Foundation several years ago, but we did not have a large enough body to start donating to the community. The employees agreed and collectively donated approximately $ 215,000 to the firefighting foundation. Within days, the bank donated $ 1 million to our foundation. Community members wanted to join us and made an additional donation of $ 180,000. Knowing that there was a huge need for immediate accommodation, we contacted a few local hotels and arranged accommodation for the fire victims. It was the donation of $ 215,000 from the employees that paid for this immediate accommodation. We have supported a few organizations, notably the Gateway in Talent project, to provide essential funding for the first permits and the initial reconstruction costs. We continue to seek opportunities to support medium and long term housing for fire survivors.
Q: From your perspective, what is the business climate like in southern Oregon? Is it promising?
Julia: We are currently going through a difficult time exiting COVID. Thanks to PPP loans, we have been able to help many businesses survive. A lot of them bounce very well. I believe that many companies will be able to rebuild their financial bases and continue to be successful. Surprisingly, despite our challenges, the general business climate is actually quite solid.
The strength of our local economy depends on the viability of our small businesses. We must continue to develop the infrastructure to support and develop local businesses. One of these areas is the need for housing for the workforce. We have a serious shortage of affordable housing. We also need to work with our state government to make Oregon a more business friendly state. We need to send the message that Oregon is a business friendly state, and at this time, we are not sending that message.
I think the business climate is promising. We have so much for us to do in Southern Oregon. We just need to stay focused on removing barriers and promoting business growth.
Q: You have served in various community volunteer positions with non-profit organizations. Which one stands out?
Julia: I was invited to join the Gordon Elwood Foundation Grants Committee about 12 years ago and then was asked to join the Board of Trustees. The Gordon Elwood Foundation is a local philanthropic organization that supports community needs in five counties in southern Oregon. It was a revelation to learn the extent of the needs in our region. I had little understanding of the volume and magnitude of the barriers that can prevent people from being successful. On the positive side, it is quite inspiring to see the number of nonprofits working incredibly hard to meet the needs of the underprivileged.
Q: So how did a woman raised in a small town in Texas get to southern Oregon?
Julia: My future husband, Brian, was finishing his studies and he was interested in working in the helicopter industry. He contacted Erickson Air Crane to inquire about a job. With a job offer and a degree in one hand and me in the other, we got married and moved to southern Oregon in 1992. It was just phenomenal. I grew up in a military family of seven. My older siblings traveled a lot with my parents as part of their military life. Several of my brothers joined the army and moved often. I never thought that 30 years later we would still be here. Southern Oregon has been a beautiful place to raise our children and a delightful place for Brian and I to establish our lives. We didn’t know anyone when we arrived. But together we have created a very fulfilling and beautiful life in Southern Oregon.
Q: What is clearer to you now?
Julia: Well, two things come to mind. The first is that I believe we have great promise in our youth. The more I get to know our young people, the more I am convinced that if we continue to support them, we have a great succession plan for our generation. I know there are a lot of people who don’t see some of the great things that are happening in our youth. Unfortunately, they see exactly what is portrayed in the media. I recently visited my son at the University of Arizona and met some of the nicest kids; enthusiastic, happy, hardworking. The Rotary Club at Central Point rewards one student each month. It’s just amazing the caliber of these young adults.
We must continue to make a concerted effort to meet the needs of those less fortunate. I reflect on my childhood in Muenster. Given the concept of “it takes a village”, we had such a village. When I was a teenager, there were many people with disabilities in our community who needed help. Their parents took care of them and everyone in town took care of them. Currently, because families are so dispersed and sometimes broken up, that support may not exist. These special people deserve to be supported and treated with respect and love. We need to provide more resources to help our disadvantaged citizens.
Q: What is important to you?
Julia: My husband, Brian, is my mainstay and provides me with incredible support. My three dear children are also important to me. Working outside the home while raising our three children was very difficult. I could not have done it without the support of my husband and my children.
I thought about the features of the people I admire. My mother is very wise. She raised seven kids. When my children were young, I asked her, âWhat can I do as a mother to help make my children good people? She said, “Teach them the virtues of life. … I must admit that I needed to seek the virtues of life. I came across a book called “Teaching Your Children the 12 Essentials of Life”. Two of those virtues that I value the most are integrity and humility. My father is someone who stands out for me as a man of great integrity and humility. Two other virtues that top my list are a strong work ethic and empathy. The people I admire the most have these characteristics.
Steve Boyarsky is a retired educator and longtime resident of Rogue Valley. He continues to be involved in educational and youth programs.
Biography of Julia Beattie
Julia Beattie has worked in community banking in Rogue Valley since leaving Texas in 1992.
She received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University in 1984 and an MBA from the University of Texas in 1986.
In 1992, she joined Western Bank as Head of Commercial Lending, and in 2003, she joined the Commercial Lending team of South Valley Bank and Trust. In 2013, she went to work for the People’s Bank as a commercial lender and was promoted to director of loans in 2015. In 2020, she was promoted to president.
She has served on the board of directors of various organizations, serving as president of the Central Point Rotary Club, of which she has been a member for approximately 25 years. She is also a director of the Gordon Elwood Foundation and president of the People’s Bank of Commerce Foundation. She and her husband, Brian, have three grown children, Audrey, 24, Elizabeth, 22, and John, 20. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, skiing and spending time with good friends drinking good wine.