"WHILE WE are first and foremost a Rhode Island-based bank, we have financed commercial lending projects in other New England states and New York," said Julia Ann Slom, a senior vice president and team leader of Washington Trust’s commercial real estate group.
Julia Anne M. Slom is a senior vice president and team leader of Washington Trust’s commercial real estate group. Her focus is developing the bank’s commercial real estate loan business. She is responsible for a large commercial portfolio and a team of five lending officers. Julia Anne joined the bank in 1994 and has more than 20 years of experience in real estate and commercial lending.
PBN: Washington Trust recently provided a $10.35 million commercial mortgage for the financing of the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Long Island Brookhaven. Is this your first venture into New York or Long Island?
SLOM: No, it is not. While we are first and foremost a Rhode Island-based bank, we have financed commercial lending projects in other New England states and New York. Our commercial real estate group works with owners and developers throughout the region on commercial real estate financing with a particular focus on Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
PBN: What other geographic areas are you currently investigating?
SLOM: Our commercial real estate group will continue to focus on opportunities in the Northeast region. However, on the residential mortgage side, we have expanded into Massachusetts and Connecticut in recent years. So, in addition to our home state of Rhode Island, we now have residential mortgage offices in Burlington and Sharon, Mass. and Glastonbury, Conn. We’ve also had a wealth management office in Wellesley, Mass., since 2005. And, our retail branch network continues to expand within Rhode Island; we opened a branch in East Providence in October 2011 and will open our third Cranston branch in August of this year.
PBN: Are your new ventures into Massachusetts and Connecticut reaching their potential or do you think business loans will continue to prosper, and how?
SLOM:We believe that you’ll begin to see more business growth as the national and regional economies improve. The reality is that economic recovery, including job growth and the other issues facing Rhode Island and the rest of the country, are key to all businesses’ prosperity. Washington Trust is the oldest community bank in the nation, so we’ve been through various economic cycles and weathered many financial storms. We fully understand that state and the rest of the region continues to face challenges but better days are indeed ahead.
PBN: What percentage of business in these markets are multi-million dollar projects and what percentage are in the $100,000 range?
SLOM: Rhode Island is primarily a small-business state, so while the large commercial real estate loans catch people’s attention, the smaller, local business loans are also a very important part of our business. Additionally, we generate significant volume of residential loans in all of the markets that we serve.
PBN: What advice do you have for companies that are willing to invest in themselves?
SLOM: My thoughts at this point in the cycle would be to stay as lean as possible during this recovery, focus on core business lines and how to expand your sales efficiently using technology. There are a lot of great minds, talent, and resources in Rhode Island, so it’s important to take advantage of them all. Rhode Island is a great place to live and work, so despite the challenges we face, persevere.