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Message from CEO Brian Nicklason

I want to take this opportunity during Community Banking Month to help explain the difference and value of Community Banking.  All Banks are regulated by either the Federal Government, the State Government, or the Federal Reserve.  Banks are classified as either Community Banks (Assets between $0 and $10 Billion), Regional Banks (Assets between $10 Billion and $100 Billion), and Multi-National Banks (Assets above $100 Billion).  Four multi-national Banks exceed $1 Trillion in Assets (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, and Wells Fargo); some Regional Banks you might have heard of include Bremer Bank and Bell Bank. However, most Banks that serve Minnesota are Community Banks that focus on the financial needs of rural and small communities. 

Each type of Bank has its pros and cons. I would like to focus on the Community Bank sector and, moreover, what it means to be a locally-owned Community Bank. Woodland Bank has been a locally owned community Bank since 1920. 

A locally owned bank like Woodland Bank is simply that…owned by shareholders or family members who live and work in the communities the bank serves.  In the Itasca Area, there are four locally owned banks: Woodland Bank, First National Bank of Coleraine, Grand Rapids State Bank, and First National Bank of Bigfork.  Non-locally owned Community Banks serving the Itasca market include Northview Bank, Deerwood Bank, and Park State Bank.  Itasca County is home to two multi-national branches, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank. 

All banks generally offer the same basic financial services, such as checking accounts and loans for their customers.  In simple terms, Banks take the deposits of their customers and use those deposits to fund loans and investments, provide liquidity to their customers, and invest in facilities and technology.  Of course, there are more, but those are the most basic. 

The most important difference between locally-owned and non-locally-owned banks is how those deposits are deployed.  One metric to understand is the Loan to Deposit Ratio, or the percentage of deposits that are loaned out.  Locally owned Banks tend to lend their money locally.  Non-locally owned Banks tend to take deposits to make local loans, but a significant portion of those deposits are sent to other branches to support loan needs away from the local community. 

Woodland Bank has a loan-to-deposit ratio of 89%. We borrow some funds from the area to support a neighboring bank with larger projects. If those are factored out, our loan-to-deposit ratio is still over 83%. I believe this is an important difference. By depositing with a locally owned Community Bank, you can be assured that those deposits impact the local community and are not utilized outside of our area. 

Over the remainder of the year, I will continue to discuss the benefits of having a relationship with a Community Bank.  I will also discuss the differences between Credit Unions and Community Banks and other considerations.  It is my intent to help you understand the impact of your financial relationship and how it makes a difference in your community. 


"We are still the community-focused bank you have come to depend on for the past 100 years. Throughout our history, we evolved to better serve customers' changing financial needs. While we celebrate our past, we look forward to our future."