During the Friday, Oct. 18, Gila Economic Development Alliance monthly Roundtable, two representatives of Wells Fargo Bank spoke to those attending.
April Ortiz and Michelle Nise of Wells Fargo Bank talked about where they came from, their community participation and what they do at the bank.
Ortiz said she was born in Silver City and never left home. She talked about the connection Wells Fargo has with Habitat for Humanity, and the help bank employees give during builds. "As Wells Fargo employees, we each have to put in 60 hours on a build. We are helping home ownership in the community."
"We want to see our youth remain here," Ortiz said. "I am branch manager for home mortgages. I enjoy the satisfaction of helping consumers with home ownership. My team is spread throughout southern New Mexico, with one representative here."
Referring to the earlier talk on broadband access for computer users, she said: "The Internet is vital to my day-to-day business for communication with my team."
She said the bank has done $4.4 billion in refinancing relief throughout the country, offering lower rates to many, even if the value of their home was not there.
Nise said she is a native of Long Island, NY. Her background with the bank includes Grant County and then, when Wachovia became Wells Fargo, she went to North Carolina to help with the changeover.
"Now I'm back in Grant County," Nise said. "We feel like part of the community, and we want our son to stay here."
She said Wells Fargo has 95 banking locations in New Mexico, and the bank is one of the 10 largest companies in the state. "We get good things started here. Habitat is one, and our teams love being hands on." She said the bank has loaned $10 million in the first quarter, in business loans, mortgages and personal loans. "Donations go through me."
Nise said the bank is working on a scholarship program for Western New Mexico University. "We have helped veterans get their businesses started, and we are working with the WNMU Business Department to keep it going."
"I am the branch manager here," Nise said. "We are a community bank."
Bruce McKinney, Silver City businessman, asked what the loan environment is for businesses and homes.
"In 2008, banks were doing no-document loans," Ortiz said. "Things have changed. It's not to make things difficult but so we don't go back to where we were. We go by what is submitted to the IRS. You have to provide documentation. It's not harder, but you do have to show documentation. We are no longer putting consumers into homes they can't afford."
Nise said it was similar for businesses.
"We're here to walk through the process with consumers," Ortiz said.
Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments director, asked about first-home buyer programs.
"We are not approved for them," Ortiz said," but we are working with the New Mexico Finance Authority on the issue."
Cissy McAndrew, local Realtor, asked about loans for manufactured housing.
"Wells Fargo will finance manufactured housing, but it has to be on a fixed foundation," Ortiz said. "And it has to have been built after 1976."
Mike Trujillo, Gila EDA member, took over the meetings after president Jeremiah Garcia had to leave to attend a funeral.
"Thank you for being here and being part of the community," Trujillo said to Ortiz and Nise.
The rest of the meeting will be covered in the third article in the series.