The recent history of the Helena Branch includes the implementation of significant changes in both the check and the cash operations to comply with Federal Reserve System standards and operating platforms. These changes were accompanied by personnel reductions from 135 to 90 staff and reduction of the management group by 50 percent. Although it may seem to us living in the present that the pace of change has accelerated over recent years, reading the early history of the Branch helps to put this into perspective.
The Branch doubled in staff in the second year of its existence only to drop back to its original size four years later when its War Finance Corporation role was transferred to Minneapolis. This was, in a sense, a predictor of more or less continuous organizational change that would follow over the next 85 years. The constant ebb and flow of functions and staff has no doubt provided leadership challenges to all of the Branch Managers who have preceded me as the organization adapted to changing mandates and changing market forces, just as we do today.
Considering the infrastructure of the Federal Reserve System at its inception, it's a remarkable testament to the men who pitched their case to the Board of Governors in 1919 for a branch in Helena that one was established here. It's in some sense an even more remarkable testament to a large number of men and women that there's still a Federal Reserve branch in Helena. Those people include the staff and officers who have worked here, as well as the Bank's leadership in Minneapolis, the leaders of the financial institutions of Montana and the directors who have all supported them. As we celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Branch on February 1, 2006, we are one of only 10 of the original 25 branches that can still be considered a "full service" branch from a historical perspective by employing both a check and a cash operation.
Be that as it may, I expect no shortage of changes in the future to challenge those who manage within the dynamic business environment of the Branch.
Vice President and Branch Manager
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Helena, Montana January 2006