Wells Fargo has ventured into the far reaches of the south East Valley by opening a branch in Coolidge.
It is the first of the high-profile national banks to locate a branch in that growing town, and is indicative of the bank’s continued rapid expansion in this part of the Valley.
“Casa Grande is the farthest out (branch) and we have several sites in Casa Grande that we’ll be looking at in the future,” said Sue Kathe, regional president for Wells Fargo community banking in the East Valley. “We’re right with the growth. We’re keeping up with it.”
The Coolidge branch is the fi fth store Wells Fargo has opened in the East Valley this year and more are planned in 2007, she said.
Branches in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Gold Canyon also have opened this year, she said.
Wells Fargo is growing so much in the south East Valley that it has created a new marketing area, South Metro, Kathe said.
“We have a standard that we allow so many stores in a district and we’ve just outgrown that to where we’ve had to add on another district to keep up with the growth in the southeast,” she said.
Misha Patel Terrazas is the new district manager for Wells Fargo Community Banking in the South Metro area. She describes the growth in her region as “explosive.”
“I have Coolidge, Casa Grande, Queen Creek and Maricopa,” she said. “Maricopa and Casa Grande have high growth rates, and Coolidge is growing. They have over 250,000 homes that are ready to be built in the span of the next five to 10 years.”
Of the more than 13,900 Wells Fargo employees in Arizona, about 80 percent of them are in the East Valley, and that workforce is growing steadily, Kathe said.
“With each new store that we put in, there’s anywhere from 10 to 15 full-time equivalent employees.”
Wells Fargo plans to open about six more branches next year in the south East Valley, Kathe said. Locating inside a shopping center has allowed Wells Fargo to move more quickly into emerging markets like Coolidge, she said.
“We’ll do a few, but most of them will be standard, traditional branches,” she said.
Wells Fargo isn’t having a tough time recruiting for branches in the far south East Valley because more people are moving into these areas and want to work close to home, Kathe said,
“For instance, in Coolidge, everyone we’re hiring either lives in Coolidge or very close,” she said. “You know how crowded the freeways are, so if we can hire local people to run our stores, we’re much better off.”