Slumping home values and a teetering economy may justify lower revenue projections for the banking industry, but Carol Nelson's work ethic, which she attributes in part to her Japanese-American heritage, has her once again exceeding expectations.

As President and CEO at Cascade Bank and Cascade Financial Corp. in Everett, WA, Nelson has presided over a 20 percent combined increase in personal and business checking deposits in the first half of this year. Personal checking account balances grew by 27 percent and business checking deposits by 14 percent compared with the same period in 2007.

Nelson says the "dramatic growth" in deposits is the result of a "bank-wide campaign to focus all of our people on generating deposit products," as well as a "ramped up" treasury management division that trains branch managers and business bankers to counsel clients on how to increase their cash flow. A remote deposit program instituted by Nelson 18 months ago is also bringing in more deposits.

Not all of Cascade's balance sheet has escaped the difficulties plaguing the economy. Second quarter net income was down by nine percent to $3.6 million from the same period in 2007, and 2008 performance has been hobbled by a $3.6 million loan loss provision for the first six months of the year compared to $500,000 in the first half of 2007. But net interest income for the second quarter increased four percent to $11.4 million, compared to $11.0 million for the second quarter of 2007. Checking account fees jumped by 33 percent in the second quarter and total loans grew by 17 percent, bringing the community bank's total assets at the end of June to $1.54 billion.

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