Chelan-Douglas Trends e-Newsletter


Heidi Myers Photo

Q: As much as any business, banks depend on data. Can you highlight for the readers any particular measures that define your sense of success at Washington Trust Bank in the greater Wenatchee area?
A: Success as a commercial banker means taking excellent care of the financial needs of our customers. This includes obtaining a thorough understanding of how their business operates, offering efficient responses to banking needs, and partnering for success in a competitive environment. Some measures that reflect success are total dollars loaned, timely collection of the loaned money, and interest earned for the bank and longtime loyal customers.

Q: You've been professionally involved in banking for nearly two decades. To what degree have you seen a greater data flow in the sector and a parallel demand to use it effectively?
A: One of the ways bankers analyze business financial statements is by comparing performance to industry standards. We have access to an extensive data base of ratios and performance measures for almost any industry. However, it is important to keep in mind that one business here in Chelan County is being compared to similar sized business across the country, and that industry norms can differ vastly by region. For that reason, access to local and regional data helps me put a local perspective on the analysis of a customers' business results.

Q: Can you tell us how Chelan Douglas Trends helps the work of you and your colleagues at Washington Trust?
A: It is very helpful to have the website available to guide our thoughts on economic vitality, housing, transportation and people (population data). For instance in lending to a business that is targeted at a older demographic, we can see that the median ago of our two county population is higher that state and national average and has increased

from 37 to 39 years in the past 12 years, while the 0-17 age group has declined steadily.

Q: Beyond Trends indicators that may assist your work at the bank, are there other measures in Chelan Douglas Trends that grab your attention?
A: Yes, the Our Valley Our Future data is so interesting. The jobs created at 25% higher earnings that last year's average wage - it sounds so complicated, but what a fascinating indicator of economic development. We can see an absolute plunge in 2014 - I would guess as a result of Alcoa's shut down, followed by a huge rebound in 2015 (re-hires?) and then some ups and downs in subsequent years. I serve on the NCW WorkForce Development Council, whose mission is to work with local schools and other partners to provide training and education to youth and adults in transition into good jobs. Workforce Development needs data like this to guide our thinking on how to accomplish our goals in our area.

Q: You've been involved in several organizations in the community. Over that time, what, if any, increase in data-based decision-making have you observed? Is the area becoming more "numerate"?
A: I love this question - at a recent board meeting for a ministry I am involved in (Young Life) we were discussing our efforts to support teenage mothers in the area. We had noticed a decline in attendance at events for this demographic, and I was able to pull up the Trends website and note the decline in births to 15 - 19 year olds in Chelan and Douglas County over the past ten years. (From 203 per 1000 in 2006 to 91 per 1000 in 2016.).

I believe that as our region grows, decision maker are using more data about our area for planning and strategy.