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Banks dwindling away in Jacksonville

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Linda Graham, owner of Scheffel’s Toys & More, is concerned the Nov. 2 closure of the Umpqua Bank branch in Jacksonville will leave businesses and individuals with even fewer banking options in town.
Umpqua Bank is closing its Jacksonville branch

Toy store owner Linda Graham was disappointed to get a letter from Umpqua Bank notifying her the company is closing its Jacksonville branch Nov. 2.

U.S. Bank closed its Jacksonville branch in 2020. The town of almost 2,900 people will be left with one bank ― a Chase Bank branch ― after the Umpqua branch shuts down this fall.

The owner of Scheffel’s Toys & More, Graham is a customer of Umpqua Bank. She’s retiring at the end of this year, so she’ll have to weather the closure of the Umpqua branch for only a few months. But she worries about the impact of the closure on Jacksonville.

"The impact to our downtown could be hugely detrimental,“ she said. ”I hope somebody can take a second look at this. I don't think they've thought through how it impacts the community as a whole.“

Graham uses Umpqua Bank to make night-time deposits and to get cash change for her business, which is located just two blocks from the bank.

She said the tourists who flock to Jacksonville will have one less place to get cash.

The Applegate Valley is also a hot-spot for marijuana and hemp growers. Since marijuana is still federally illegal, many marijuana businesses operate as cash-only enterprises.

Scheffel said people in the cannabis industry often shop in Jacksonville. They use cash, often in the form of big bills that quickly deplete stores’ stock of small bills needed to make change.

She said closing a bank branch wouldn’t be such a big deal in a city like Medford, which has dozens of bank and credit union branches.

Scheffel said Umpqua Bank isn’t considering the impact on Jacksonville, a small, rural community 5 miles from Medford.

"It's very short-sighted of Umpqua to not consider the rural impacts of what they're doing,“ she said. ”I think they are bean-counters who are looking at these things and saying, 'Oh, the numbers just don't look right and it's not a big branch. We should be able to close it without any impact.'"

Umpqua Bank officials said they are adapting to changes in how people use banks.

“Umpqua continues to adapt to the reality that people visit store locations less and less and now do most of their day-to-day banking by computer or phone. As a result, we’ve been consolidating our number of stores the past few years based on a variety of factors, such as overall foot traffic and proximity to other locations,” Umpqua Bank Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Relations Kurt Heath said in a statement provided to the Mail Tribune.

He said Jacksonville customer accounts will be transferred to an Umpqua branch five miles away. He noted there are three Umpqua branches within 10 miles of Jacksonville.

“We understand this will be inconvenient for some, which is why we remain committed to working with each and every customer to make sure they have the support they need. Our ATM will still be available near-term for customers, and we’re looking for a long-term location for local ATM service,” Heath said.

Umpqua Bank is encouraging customers to do their banking online.

Heath said they can also enroll in Umpqua Go-To, which allows them to choose their own personal banker devoted to supporting their financial needs and to interact and troubleshoot any issues in a real-time, secure chat format.

Graham acknowledges she got out of the habit of going into the Umpqua Bank lobby in Jacksonville during the COVID-19 pandemic. But she and her husband still use the branch to make night deposits and exchange $100 bills for smaller bills.

Umpqua Bank has been friendly and accessible when it comes to loans, she said.

Graham predicts most Jacksonville business owners will switch from Umpqua to Chase Bank.

"Umpqua has been there for the small businesses, so it really hurts to have them just dismiss us and say, 'That's it. We're done,’" Graham said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.