Business & Real Estate

Incoming bank, foundation team up to donate $100K to area nonprofits

The Village at San Antonio Center” width=
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The Village at San Antonio Center in Mountain View, above, is set to welcome a new tenant in February when Fremont Bank opens a branch. Bank representatives selected the location in an effort to expand the company’s footprint to the southern end of the Peninsula.

When Fremont Bank opens in The Village at San Antonio Center early next year, local residents will already know its name – or at least that’s the hope of Brian Hughes, the grandson of the corporation’s founder and executive director of the Fremont Bank Foundation, a charitable giving program.

Hughes and his team have partnered with Los Altos Community Foundation to give $100,000 in grants to South Bay nonprofit organizations. LACF will manage the funds and distribute them to nonprofit groups that apply, according to Hughes. LACF will then report back to the Fremont Bank Foundation with updates on what’s happening with the money and how it is being put to good use. Hughes said he is excited for the updates; he wants to get to know all of the philanthropic agencies in the area.

“It’s a really important role for us to show we are committed to cities we move into,” he said in a phone call with the Town Crier. “We really want to get to know the people of the Los Altos/Mountain View area. I think this opening, welcoming gift grant will be a fun way to enter (the region) with open arms.”

In the first three quarters of 2019, the Fremont Bank Foundation awarded 51 grants totaling more than $1 million, according to its website. The bank seeks to serve the specific needs of each community it conducts business in, Hughes noted. Examples include smaller donations like $500 to the Fremont Art Association for its 54th annual Art Show and larger donations like $115,000 in total to various food banks across the Bay Area during the holiday season.

“We hope that the town is excited for our brand and the commitment to the community coming its way,” Hughes said.

Investing in the people investing in them

According to Devon Johnson, Fremont Bank’s vice president of marketing, the corporation’s end goal is to be “the premier community bank in the San Francisco Bay Area.” In an effort to do that, the bank continues to expand. Despite increasing digital capabilities when it comes to banking, Johnson said, Fremont Bank strives for what Hughes calls a “come on in, settle down and relax” attitude while fostering an exceedingly personal experience in which employees are “present and actively involved.”

Founded in Fremont, the bank grew to nearby Newark and Union City and now has 21 branches. The Mountain View branch at 565 San Antonio Road will be No. 22, and the first location on the southern end of the Peninsula.

“This location was chosen because it is a highly trafficked area in a new and prevalent shopping center and because it is close to the intersection of Mountain View, Palo Alto and Los Altos,” Johnson said via email. “We also have a meaningful number of mortgage clients in close proximity and we are serving local business clients, so we are entering a market where we already have established relationships.”

The company identified the Mountain View site as an attractive location for a new branch in December 2017; the space is being renovated to conform with Fremont Bank’s image and is expected to open Feb. 5.

“Our brand is centered around being local, and we look to incorporate that both physically as well as visually,” Johnson said. “We are a high-touch bank, and we will look to create an environment conducive to transactional banking but also relationship building, during banking hours or when hosting events for our clients and community members.”

Johnson added that the company is “challenged with a small footprint” but is still aiming to design a space that allows for both quick transactions for clients in a hurry and longer, more intimate visits for clients who require further advising.

Hughes knows the company is entering a new market, which has opened up a larger conversation about how to share the brand and get people to understand it.

“One thing that has stayed true to us is when we support the community and it grows, the bank will grow with them,” he said. “I’ve always felt that a strong community equals a strong bank. That’s why we try to make sure local businesses have the correct lending they need, with the accounts they need, so that they can be successful. Without local business success, what kind of city do you have?”

For more information on Fremont Bank and its values, visit fremontbank.com.

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