NORTH BAY -- Bank of Marin is extending its reach into Sonoma County with a new loan production office opening today in downtown Santa Rosa, bringing the total number of branches to 15.

Currently the four employees are in an upstairs office at 50 Santa Rosa Ave., but in the first quarter of next year, a full retail branch will be open at the prominent downtown building. Novato-based Bank of Marin is also actively seeking to locate a branch in Sonoma.

“Expanding into Santa Rosa is an important part of our well-managed growth strategy,” said Russell Colombo, president and chief executive officer of the bank. “We believe that customers in Santa Rosa will appreciate the way we do business with our focus on the unique lending needs of businesses and  our commitment to the communities we serve.”

Bank of Marin opened its first Sonoma County branch in Petaluma 10 years ago, and now employs 20 people in three offices.

The bank has hired Sonoma County banking veteran Dave Brown, most recently with North Valley Bank, as senior vice president, commercial banking manager.

“I am pleased to be associated with such a well-run, well-respected bank,” said Mr. Brown. “We look forward to providing Sonoma County businesses the personal service and community commitment that Bank of Marin is known for, including philanthropic contributions, employee volunteerism and lending that supports the economic growth of the county.”

The new vice president and commercial lender Kim August comes to the bank with 23 years of experience, including 14 years in a similar position at Exchange Bank.

Also in the office will be Joe Scaramella, who joined the bank in August as a vice president and business development officer.  He brings 27 years of commercial lending experience to the team.  Chris Rosell is the vice president and private banker for Sonoma County. He joined the bank in 2009 and will be providing private banking services out of the new office.

“I am very excited about the team,” Mr. Colombo said. “We think this is an opportune time, and we are in very good financial condition. And we are still just about 30 miles from headquarters in Novato.”

The bank plans to hire a total of nine employees to staff the branch.

Bank of Marin Bancorp has assets in excess of $1 billion.

Bank of Marin stock is trading at $34.50 with a 52-week range of $33.75 to $34.66.