The acquisition of the Lancaster office of Silvergate Bank by Americas United Bank this month is a deal that has its roots deep in the shifting demographics of the Antelope Valley. Americas United, founded in 2006, has made a niche for itself in serving the Latino community from its headquarters in Glendale and a branch in Downey. Now, the bank has picked up a branch in the Antelope Valley, where the number of Latinos has grown to more than 140,000, or almost a third of the population. “There are many clients that will benefit from our community bank model and mission,” Chief Executive Adriana Boeka said. The bank bought the office in a transaction that includes a premium payment of 0.5 percent on the $46 million in deposits at the branch. The acquisition followed a telephone call between Boeka and Silvergate Bank Chief Executive Alan Lane. Silvergate Bank is based in La Jolla and has four other branches in San Diego County. Its Lancaster branch didn’t really fit into its core business. “I thought about it for two days and then called (Lane) and we talked and I understood his reasons for exiting,” Boeka said. “We then came to an agreement.” Dennis Santiago, a Torrance-based director of the bank monitor division for Total Bank Solutions, a New Jersey firm providing deposit management and bank rating and analysis services, said the acquisition made sense from both sides. Silvergate shed an outlying branch, while Americas United gains a branch that should strengthen its asset base with little risk. In the third quarter, Americas United had assets of $121 million and a net income of $711,000. “You go out to the Antelope Valley, it is another bedroom community bank type of territory given the amount of people going out there,” Santiago said. He noted that Latinos are an underserved population that is now turning to brick-and-mortar banks after a long tradition of keeping cash close at hand. The problem historically is that banks have not been able to set up branches fast enough to serve the population. He applauded Americas United for buying the branch. “I am encouraged by that,” Santiago said. Damage and Recovery The Valley Economic Development Center in recent years has taken its small business lending throughout California, into the Midwest with an eye on the East Coast. Surprisingly, it can attribute much of its growth to a huge boost it got serving small businesses damaged by the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. The Sherman Oaks nonprofit began hosting workshops showing business owners how to apply for Small Business Administration disaster loans, recalled President Roberto Barragan. “As many homes that were damaged by the quake, there were just as many small businesses,” he said. The early morning Jan. 17 temblor caused 57 deaths, more than 5,000 injuries and $20 billion in damages. Barragan estimates the VEDC helped out 10,000 businesses in getting $125 million in disaster assistance from the SBA. The Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration provided millions more for businesses not eligible for an SBA loan, he added. Small business owners in particular needed financial help because statistics show that if they do not re-open within six months, most never will. Some older business people decided to call it a day and just retire after the earthquake, Barragan said. “If you were a restaurant and in a damaged building you went out of business,” he added. While the short term effects of the earthquake were devastating, the long term ones turned out to be beneficial, Barragan said. The Valley, like much of California, was coming out of a recession in 1994 and the millions in federal aid for recovery efforts gave a much needed financial boost. “We got out of the economic doldrums faster because of the quake,” Barragan said. Staffing Up Union Bank has added Joshua Boswell and Beau Brennan Lazar to its mortgage team serving the San Fernando Valley. Boswell will work from the bank’s Studio City branch where he will manage a team of mortgage consultants in addition to helping clients with their mortgage needs. He will report to Vice President and Regional Sales Manager Heidi Snyder. Boswell has previously worked at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and as branch manager with First Rate Financial of Frisco, Texas. He is a member of the Burbank National Association of Realtors. Lazar will split time between Union Bank’s Toluca Lake branch and Miracle Mile branch. He will work in the group that originates home mortgages and will report to Vice President and Regional Sales Manager Craig Filson. Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.