KeyBank opens Columbia Tech Center branch

The planning for the grand opening Monday of KeyBank's new branch at Columbia Tech Center in Vancouver resembled more a county fair – complete with a barbeque, door prizes and balloon animals – than a corporate-sponsored event.

And according to Penny Armstrong, vice president and area sales leader for the bank, that's no mistake.

The Cleveland-based bank, with 1,003 locations in 14 states, including five branches in Clark County, hopes to draw in more local customers with a more personal, down-home flair. "Though we are a large bank, we deal in a community bank philosophy," Armstrong said.

That sentiment was seconded by Kayleen McConnachie, the manager of a closed KeyBank branch nearby in Fisher’s Landing, as well as the new branch at CTC replacing it.

McConnachie, a Vancouver resident since 1999, first suggested the grand opening festivities to her superiors as a way to celebrate growth in the regional economy, as well as the potential growth of the bank’s Clark County market share.

"We are very bullish towards the Portland metro area – it's one of our most hopeful regions," Armstrong said.

According to Armstrong, KeyBank has plans to open 20 new locations across the region. Though the recent downturn has caused some financial institutions to scale back business expansion plans, Armstrong says KeyBank is actively seeking new clients, making $32 billion in new loans during 2009.

The 4,318-sq.-foot branch will have two drive-thru ATMs, mounted informational touch-screens and a series of photographs recounting the history of Vancouver, according to McConnachie.

According to Armstrong, the bank gave more than $1 million annually to Portland and Southwest Washington nonprofits and participated in the Neighbors Make a Difference Day program – an employee volunteer program on behalf of local charities.

The bank is the latest tenant for the Columbia Tech Center, located across a 412-acre campus in East Vancouver, joining tenants J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart and a recently-opened Clark College building.

Created by the merger of the old KeyCorp based in Albany, N.Y. and the Society Corp. of Cleveland, KeyCorp, the holding company of KeyBank, has $97 billion in assets and employs 16,436 people nationwide.