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North Bay Credit Union to open in Sonoma’s Springs neighborhood


Frustrated by the long withdrawal of “banking” options in the Springs? Well, get ready for a welcome deposit.

That’s because Boyes Hot Springs commercial landlord Marco Vailetti has confirmed that North Bay Credit Union will open its first Sonoma Valley branch this fall at the new Vailetti Plaza at 201 Nino Marco Square off Highway 12.

The bank will be open five days a week, including some hours on Saturdays.

The credit union offers checking and savings accounts, students loans, farming loans, credit cards, mortgages and auto loans.

The credit union is already familiar to many as a sponsor of local youth, farmer organizations and events like the Sonoma County Fair, 4-H and Farm Trails, as well as scholarships for agriculture students.

Cinthya Gamino was a junior in high school when she first became a customer of North Bay Credit Union. The FFA club at Sonoma Valley High School helped her to get a loan of $1,000 to buy a pig. Her senior year, North Bay CU loaned her money to buy both a pig and a sheep.

“I used the profits from selling those animals to pay for my books at Sonoma State,” Gamino, SVHS ’12, explained. “I’m so happy that North Bay is opening here. It is going to be great for the high school students who do ag projects through FFA.”

Gamino also got her first car loan and her first credit card through North Bay CU.

While NBCU has only a handful of branches, it belongs to a co-op with 30,000 ATMs. The branch in the Springs will have one external ATM that will be accessible 24 hours.

The credit union has assets of $45 million and more than 2,500 members.

Membership is open to all Sonoma County residents (or to non-Sonoma County residents with affiliations with one of our member groups). NBCU offers free checking accounts with a minimum balance of $50.

“We’re very excited to be opening in Sonoma Valley and filling the void that currently exists in the Springs,” said NBCU CEO Chris Call. “We have a number of members there already and our new branch will also be very convenient for them.”

While it is the oldest credit union in Sonoma County, North Bay CU currently has just two branches, one at Sutton Place in Santa Rosa and one on Healdsburg Avenue in Healdsburg. This would be the credit union’s first branch in Sonoma Valley.

North Bay CU was founded by members of Sonoma County granges who pooled their savings to help new farmers who had no access to bank credit so they could buy land and equipment to start their own farming operations. In 2017, it changed its name from Sonoma County Grange Credit Union to North Bay Credit Union “to better reflect the diversity of our membership and the breadth of the geography that we serve.”

Call would like to expand North Bay CU’s business of providing financing to vineyards and winery operations.

Stephen Ashton, owner of Glen Ellen’s Ashton Winery, chose North Bay for his business loans and said that the credit union’s long agriculture history was really important to him.

“They really know what they are doing, they love it and they are committed to this market,” he said. “They aren’t aiming to be Citibank.”

Ashton added that he’s pleased that there will now be an accessible banking option for vineyard workers, many of whom live in the Springs area.

“This is an institution that they can feel comfortable with and trust,” he said. “The staff always seems to be willing to talk and answer questions. You feel like they are on your side.”

The earthy green colored barn style buildings of Vailetti Plaza will have contemporary details, according to David Rapp, principal at the Sonoma-based design firm, STRATAap.

The 6,500-square-foot shopping complex consists of a north building with two tenants and a south building with three or four tenants as well as a restroom. The vehicle entrance is from Depot Road but access from the sidewalk enables the stores to be entered from either side.

According to Call, NBCU is in the process of finalizing the hiring of its Sonoma Valley branch staff. Vailetti expects the building to be complete in September and Call expects the 1,100-square-foot branch to be open for business by November.

The other tenants are expected to include a coffee/ice cream shop, a salon, Teen Services Operation Bicycle shop.

Contact Lorna at businessnews@sonomanews.com.