Local business

Sterling Financial Corp. swung to a fourth-quarter 2011 profit of $14.8 million from a $642.7 million loss for the same period in 2010.

The Spokane-based parent company of Sterling Savings Bank, which operates branches in Ashland, Central Point, Jacksonville and Medford, turned a $39.1 million profit in 2011, bouncing back from write-off-filled 2010, when it lost $756.1 million.

Sterling now has strung together four consecutive quarters of earnings growth. It also has decreased its deposit costs, while reducing its nonperforming assets 55 percent to $447.2 million.

SOFCU Community Credit Union has merged with Oregon First Community Credit Union and is now an affiliate of the Coquille-based financial institution.

The merger has resulted in 30 branch locations and combined assets of $700 million. The combined membership of the new institution is 70,000.

Grants Pass-based SOFCU was created in 1953 as the Josephine County Teachers Credit Union and previously merged with other institutions three times.

Oregon First Community Credit Union is headquartered in Coquille and has been part of seven previous mergers since 1971, according to its website.

Both credit unions will operate with existing data systems, while SOFCU shares will automatically be transferred to First Community.

SOFCU operates in Grants Pass, Medford, Klamath Falls, Roseburg, North Bend, Bend, Rogue River, Creswell and Cave Junction. Oregon First Community Credit Union has 20 branches across the state.

Because both institutions have branches in North Bend, SOFCU indicated the two may be merged "at some future point."

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