Muskingum News


Jim Nicholson ’84: Supporting Small Businesses
jim nicholson headshot

As President and CEO of North Valley Bank, Jim Nicholson has extensive experience in supporting small businesses, with a customer base surrounding the bank’s Zanesville headquarters and throughout Muskingum, Perry, Morgan, and Licking Counties. 

“North Valley’s goal has always been to build stronger communities, by growing our banking relationships and helping clients fulfill their needs. Small businesses are important economic engines, and people in our communities depend on them every day. As a result, we have longstanding expertise as a Small Business Administration (SBA) lender,”  Jim said.

“In the early days of the COVID-19 shutdowns, we immediately began working with our customers on loan and payment modifications to help them through uncertain times.  When the federal CARES Act introduced the Paycheck Protection Program, we were well-positioned to draw on our SBA lending experience to help business owners access those federal funds.  We have had to be extremely adaptable and flexible throughout the process, as guidelines and regulations for these programs continue to evolve.” 

“We have been able to serve our existing business customers as well as reach out to help new customers who had not worked with us before.  As a  small and nimble bank, we can provide continuous communication and fast response times, and we can see how our work has a direct, positive impact on the lives of people in our communities.”

At the same time as North Valley was aiding its customers, Jim was also leading the bank through its own COVID-19 challenges.  “We quickly put into place our own business continuity plan,” Jim explained. “Before the pandemic, we had been gradually moving toward remote work technologies and we sped up that implementation, so that our staff could seamlessly rotate between working onsite and working from home. Establishing this structure has made us stronger as an organization and  even better prepared to meet the future needs of our communities. I’m continuously inspired by our staff, who have stepped up to intense workloads with a willingness to do everything they can to help our customers.”

“My time at Muskingum gave me a solid academic foundation that prepared me for success in the marketplace,” Jim reflects.  “My education opened doors for me, and I was ready to learn from each new opportunity.  It was in Muskingum’s liberal arts environment that I learned how to think critically and creatively, and to problem solve.  That flexibility has been important throughout my career and it is especially critical in today’s changing economy.”

Jim graduated from Muskingum with a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting.  A varsity baseball player, he earned Academic All-American honors in 1983 and 1984, and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  After a season playing shortstop for the Pirate’s Class-A farm team, he completed his CPA exam and began his career with one of the country’s largest accounting firms.  He moved into banking in 1990, became President of First National Bank in 1996, and  held several other banking leadership roles before beginning his current position in 2015. 

 Jim and his wife Melanie Vargo Nicholson ’84 reside in Zanesville, Ohio.

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