Fort Lewis College News and Events

Banker invests in his community

Norm Franke didn’t set out to be a banker when he attended college. But 34 years after starting his career, he finds himself a regional president of Alpine Bank in charge of location development – a role that also enables him to invest in the health of his new community.

Franke (Business Administration, ’83) worked on Colorado’s Western Slope for 20 years before he moved to Denver in 2013. There, he’s overseeing the development of Alpine Bank’s first branches on the Front Range. He’s opened one location in Denver and one in Cherry Creek, with two more scheduled for completion by the end of 2018.

“To come to the Front Range was a great opportunity, a great challenge, and a way to stay engaged and open new doors,” he says. “So far it's been very successful.”

For most people, those responsibilities – on top of moving to a new city – would be enough to handle. But not for Franke, who embodies the community engagement that is an important part of Alpine Bank’s mission.

Since relocating to Denver, Franke has jumped at the chance to serve on, frankly, a remarkable list of nonprofit boards. He is currently chairing the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation board. And he rattles off all the others: he sits on the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce board of directors, the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation board, the Colorado Children's Hospital Leadership Council, the board of the metro Denver chapter of the American Red Cross, the Denver Metro Executive Club, the ACE Scholarship Foundation advisory board, the Denver Inner City Parish board, the Young Americans Bank board, the American Transplant Foundation board, and the Colorado UpLift board.

“There are so many organizations,” Franke acknowledges. “Every one of them changes somebody’s life. Look at Colorado UpLift. They’re in the public schools with curriculum that teaches kids life skills, morals. Once kids get in this program and they learn a lot of these skills, over ninety percent of them will go to college and graduate from college. It changes the whole cycle of the family. It’s life-changing.”

The desire to create educational and career opportunities for people who need them is a common thread through Franke’s banking career, which started right after graduating Fort Lewis College.

His first post was at Alpine Bank in Glenwood Springs. In 1990 he transferred to Grand Junction as a regional president. However, if you had told Franke during college that he was going to be a banker, he may not have believed you. In fact, he started out as an Engineering major before switching to the School of Business Administration halfway through his four years. Even then, he didn’t know that banking was his career until suddenly it was.

“You know, it's interesting,” he says. “You go to college, and you really don't know you want to do a certain career until you get involved with it.”

Franke stresses the importance of earning a bachelor’s degree in any field, because in doing so, he learned how to learn. That ability allowed him to step into a career he never anticipated. “Once you start in an industry,” he says, “they teach you everything else you need to know. You learn by showing up every day.”

Franke’s zeal for helping out with so many organizations is clearly his own, as is his belief in a college education. But he does credit the culture at Alpine Bank – a local institution whose original ownership has stayed in western Colorado since its inception – for fostering his sense of involvement.

“At Alpine Bank, we don’t do just a deal or a transaction. We really want to develop a relationship with our community. So we really listen to our communities and what’s going on and try to help the best we can,” Franke explains. “If our communities do well, our banks will do well. If our communities are not doing well, our banks probably aren’t going to do very well. It’s a philosophy that I've lived by for thirty-four years.”

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