Star Bank hosts Congressman Dean Phillips

Congressman Dean Phillips visited the Eden Prairie location of Star Bank on July 2. The meeting was more than just a friendly call on a local business in his district. According to Star Bank President & CEO Harry Wahlquist, Congressman Phillips’ goal was to learn about community banking as a member of the House Financial Services Committee. He also wanted to learn more about the issues that affect Star Bank and its customers in Minnesota’s 3rd congressional district.

Wahlquist planted the seed for a visit during ICBM’s trip to Washington D.C. for ICBA’s Capital Summit on April 28 through May 1. “The highlight of the trip was what ended up a private sit-down with Congressman Phillips,” Wahlquist said. “Scott Beuning (Tradition Capital Bank, based in Wayzata) and I were scheduled to meet with Phillips at his office. We arrived a little earlier than our fellow Minnesota community bankers and just happened to meet Congressman Phillips outside his building. He ushered us through security and before we knew it just the three of us were visiting in his office.”

During their meeting, Congressman Phillips expressed his desire to learn more about banking issues. “I suggested we do a lunch-and-learn at Star Bank when he was home in our district,” Wahlquist said. “Then, he contacted us about eight weeks ago to pick a date.”

During the meeting, Wahlquist and ICBM President & CEO Jim Amundson walked Phillips through the history and Congressional intent for credit unions and Farm Credit. They also introduced the Congressman to ICBA’s legislative agenda, Community Focus 2020. “We had a wonderful exchange of information,” Wahlquist said. “It was scheduled to go an hour, but it ended up stretching to 90 minutes. He even indicated he’d love to do it again.”

Star Bank’s meeting with Phillips shows that an advocacy relationship is just like any other, said Amundson. “We can build these relationships, and they do affect lawmakers’ opinions, especially with the steep learning curve that confronts them when they enter the office,” he said. “We can only capitalize on opportunities like Star Bank did if we show up.”

Community banks and bankers will be more successful if they commit to act in support of industry advocacy. Here’s what you can do:

  • Join the legislative committee.
  • Contribute to the PAC.
  • Make an impression on your lawmakers: Invite them to an event, coffee or lunch — or to visit your bank.
  • Plan to attend Day at the Capitol and ICBA’s Capital Summit, which will be held Tuesday, April 28 – Friday, May 1, 2020.
  • Communicate pain points caused by state law.

Contact Jim Amundson at 651-789-3985 or email him at to complete any of these actions.

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