PORTLAND -- At 6:01p.m. on Friday the largest bank acquisition in Oregon history took place.

Umpqua Bank, headquartered in Portland, and Spokane, Washington's Sterling Bank, are now merged.

It nearly doubles the size of Umpqua with $22 billion in assets. It also means the Umpqua name will stretch across 400 locations in five states.

Umpqua CEO Ray Davis will continue to guide the company. He admits there are challenges in a merger of this size but the company is making sure, above all else, that the culture that made both banks successful remains intact.

We choose to operate our bank as a community bank, said Davis.

Davis vows to protect the community aspect of what has made Umpqua a success for more than 20 years.

Wall Street has said over and over again, 'It can't be done. You can't be $22 billion and be a community bank, you just can't do it,' Davis said. And, I say, 'Why not,' and they say, 'Because it's never been done before.' So okay great, so we'll be the first one.

Over the next several weeks Sterling Bank locations will see new Umpqua signage and remodels to reflect the Umpqua store model. Also included will be the popular silver phones. Dial 8 to get direct access to Davis' desk.

When he's available, he picks up the phone to answer customer questions.

Since 1994, Umpqua has merged 30 banks into its system. As with most mergers, there will be some branch closures and a loss of some jobs.

Umpqua will hold job fairs to help workers find new work.

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