BankWise November 29, 2018
Falcon National Bank was featured by the OCC in its Community Developments Investments newsletter for its support for rural broadband on Nov. 26. The Foley-based bank utilized its SBA lending expertise to give a locally-owned telecommunications company the funding it needed to expand broadband and cellular service to the Highway 10 corridor between Big Lake and St. Cloud. The winners in these types of deals aren’t just the bank and the company doing the work. They include all the people who live, work and study in rural communities who’ve been woefully underserved when it comes to internet connectivity.
Kudos to Jessica Bitz, Falcon Bank’s market president, for looking at a challenging credit and asking, “how can we make it work?” An initial loan to Palmer Wireless turned into several, as is often the case, and the result is one span of the digital divide bridged. Oh, and a cool new fleet of WiFi-enabled school busses dubbed “rolling study halls.”
It’s no surprise to us that Minnesota community banks have emerged as leaders in bridging the digital divide in rural America.
Regulators have proposed changes to how community banks measure capital and have proposed raising the threshold for residential real estate transactions requiring an appraisal. Both are welcome developments for community banks.
In describing the capital simplification plan, the American Banker reported that FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams said the purpose was to reduce compliance burden on banks that “by and large, already have more than enough capital to meet regulatory minimums.”
The appraisal requirement — with a proposed threshold of $400,000 up from its current $250,000 — is relief to rural bankers who struggle to find qualified appraisers and, in some instances, cannot locate comparable properties.
Both of these proposed changes are open for comment and signal a unified effort by the three regulatory agencies to ease burden weighing down community banks.
· Alyssa Bowers brings 21 years of experience to mortgage lending team at First National Bank of Waseca.
· Viking Bank’s Shari Laven talks about competing in the heavily banked Alexandria area.
· Highland Bank’s Melissa Johnston shares insights culled along the path into leadership.
· Citizens Alliance Bank welcomes Amy Murphy to leadership team.
· ICBA Securities’ Jim Reber explains how to put unrealized losses to good use for community bank investment portfolios.
· First State Bank Southwest was featured in The Globe, Worthington, Minn., for its work to help immigrant entrepreneurs.
Minnesota farmers will see their 2018 profits measured on a scale from “good” to “terrible,” with three difference makers: crop yield, previous marketing decisions, and the level and type of crop insurance they carried. Yield is mostly a function of weather and farmers in southern Minnesota experienced abnormally high rainfall plus late-season severe storms. Corn doesn’t grow well in standing water.
In terms of marketing, soybean farmers may experience the greatest hit to profit, attributable to ongoing trade issues with China. The farmers who locked in their markets early may still be okay. Farmers who chose to insure their crop using “enterprise units” rather than “optional units” in order to save on premiums may find themselves regretting that decision this year. Make sure you understand the difference.