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2024 Message from Leadership

Posted in: Community News

2024 Message from Leadership

Happy New Year!

Time flies when you’re having fun – where did the last year go? 2023 was a challenging year in banking. We experienced the fastest increase in interest rates since the early 80’s and the first drop in our national money supply since the Great Depression. These events put pressure on the liquidity and margins of banks across the spectrum, ultimately leading to the collapse of three large banks: Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, and First Republic. While the business models of these banks are different than a community bank like ours, their failures serve as a reminder of the vital role our depositors play in ensuring our stability. We thank you for your ongoing support and trust in us.

Despite the challenging year, we financed a record amount of new construction and provided a steady flow of credit to area farmers and small businesses. In July 2023, we were named a Top Ag Lender by the Independent Community Bankers Association. We couldn’t do this without our local customers, again, thank you!

Higher interest rates increase the cost of borrowing money, which typically drives down asset values. So far, it seems to have little effect on the price of farmland and housing in our area. Experts believe rates will subside beginning in 2024 if inflation moderates. No one knows for sure and anything can happen.

Change keeps coming at us faster every year. In the financial sector, developments in artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, instant payments, cyber/fraud risk and new regulations keep us on our toes. While we’re working on many of these things, we know that good old-fashioned customer service, sound banking advice and ease of doing business at fair prices are what most customers want. We are committed to providing excellent service - in person, on the phone and digitally. If ever we fail to live up to this, please let us know.

We look forward to many years of continued relationships with you and thank you for banking with us!

Ben Grimstas, Donna Thomas, and Justin Gullekson