Each year, the Journal checks in with some of the key figures in commercial banking in Sonoma, Solano, Marin, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties. Here is our conversation with Jonathan Graves, vice president and commercial loan officer for Poppy Bank.
What two or three elements of the commercial banking business have changed in the last five years?
JONATHAN GRAVES: The legalization of cannabis on the state level has made the demand for commercial warehouse space in the North Bay very tight. I have many non- cannabis clients who need more space but simply can’t find it.
Interest rates have increased 1.50 percent–1.75 percent over the last five years. This increase directly effects the affordability for someone looking to invest in commercial real estate.
In the North Bay specifically, what market forces might change significantly in 2019 and beyond, and why?
GRAVES: As far as I know, no North Bay bank is actively lending to cannabis related businesses due to it being federally illegal. If in the coming years it becomes legal, I’m curious to see if banks would be willing to take them on as customers.
I think it will be interesting to see how North Bay leaders address the increasing need for affordable housing combined with being apprehensive to build any new projects, in the deemed “high fire risk” areas.
How have customer profiles and requirements changed? For example, are customers generally more cautious or bullish in their projects?
GRAVES: Towards the end of 2018 I feel that customers became a little more cautious than they were in the last 3 to 4 years. There is an overall sense that things might be slowing down and people are wanting to make sure they are making prudent decisions.
What’s your institution’s long term view for business in the North Bay?
GRAVES: I believe the bank is optimistic in the future of the North Bay. We are fortunate to be assisting in many of our client’s rebuilding efforts and continue to always be on the lookout for new clients we can assist. Poppy Bank has deep roots in this community and definitely makes it a priority.
Most inspiring commercial banking story you were part of in the past two years?
GRAVES: Poppy Bank has been a major player in helping victims of Coffey Park, and other areas, get competitive construction financing at a local level. It has been heartwarming to see people moving back home after being in limbo for the past 14 months.
Vice president and commercial loan officer
438 First St., Santa Rosa, CA 95401; 707-636-9000
Year you assumed this position: 2013
How long have you worked in commercial banking?: 11 years
Read other conversations with this year's North Bay leaders in commercial banking.