New community bank fills niche in northern Anoka County

Minnesota State Roundup

Published April 1, 1993  | April 1993 issue

When the business community in St. Francis, a small town about 15 miles north of the the Twin Cities, asked the state's Commerce Department for a bank, it so happened that a group of investors were looking for a start-up bank site. Commerce Department staff were able to connect the two groups, and the first commercial bank chartered by the state of Minnesota since 1984 opened for business earlier this year.

Village Bank, a startup community bank, represents a departure from the trend of a decade of mergers and consolidations in the banking industry. In that period Minnesota has seen state and federally chartered banks decrease by nearly 100.

"St. Francis has wanted a bank for quite some time. It was a priority of the business community," says Tom Snell, executive director of the Anoka County Chamber of Commerce. Previously the town's 2,800 residents had access to automated teller service only.

"Having a community bank gives the local people a chance to do more business in this area. It also will help the commercial and residential real estate business," says Gary Zimmerman, president of North Anoka Realty.

The region is on the verge of a metropolitan expansion and it was "under-banked," according to Michael Duepner, chairman and chief executive officer of Village Bank. A study of the area commissioned by the bank's founders predicts a 14 percent population growth in the trade territory and a 25 percent increase in jobs through the year 2000.

The bank is expected to grow to $25 million in loans and other assets within a few years. "Our philosophy is to stay close to our customers, to know them on a first-name basis and to anticipate their needs. We also plan to play a key role working with the community in deciding the future development of this area," Duepner says.

Currently operating out of a double trailer, Village Bank plans to build a permanent facility in spring.

Christine Power