April is Community Banking Month, which is an excellent opportunity to showcase the impact of local banking on the families and businesses in our towns and cities across Minnesota and southeast South Dakota.

Whether you run a small business, run a family farm or are looking to purchase a home, these are some of the reasons choosing an organization like Minnwest Bank is the friendlier, more empowering choice for meeting your banking and lending needs.

Because we live here and work here, we’re just as invested in your success as you are — and in the success of the community.

Community engagement

If you’re looking to buy a house or pursue a small business loan, the lenders and bankers at Minnwest Bank have deep ties to the community. They're plugged in and invested in its success and prosperity.

That’s because one of the pillars of community banking is community involvement. If you were to peek at the volunteer lists and board members of various schools, nonprofits and organizations, you’ll likely find someone with ties to your local Minnwest branch.

“I care deeply about our Sioux Falls community, and being involved in the nonprofit space and with economic development brings me joy,” says Andrea Carstensen, Cash Management Sales Officer based in the southeast South Dakota city. “I feel proud just to represent Minnwest because I see the value of community banking and what we can bring people.”

To Carstensen, cultivating this visibility and involvement comes with a deeper purpose. It’s building a network and establishing a reputation.

“Community banking is being seen and known in your community. It's being at local basketball games, recognizing customers, and having meaningful relationships with people as well,” Carstensen says. “That you are a reliable individual who can offer sound advice with creative and unique offerings, as probably a friend in the community as well.”

[Read more: Why your local lender is a better bet than an online lender]

Friendly service

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in to your local Minnwest branch is that the employees will know you and greet you by name.

We're going to ask about your family and how you're doing being we know who you are," Carstensen says. "We care about you, and we know why you may be calling or stopping in.

Convenient banking tools

However, if making an in-person trip to the bank is the last thing you want to add to your to-do list, community banks like Minnwest Bank also provide all the convenient digital banking tools you could want to manage your personal and business accounts. You can transfer funds, check your balance on the go, make payments and sweep accounts. At the same time, you can avoid the 1-800-runaround and instead get access to personal service by calling your banker or branch directly, or by connecting to the regionally-based customer support service.

[Read more: Introducing the ITM: Get more done with drive-up banking]

Personalized offerings

Community banks take a tailored approach to meet the needs of their customers. You won’t find the one-size-fits-all approach at Minnwest Bank.

Other banks apply a strict standard of policies and criteria that are designed to streamline time and maximize margins. Community banks embrace a philosophy that emphasizes investing in the customer over sticking to a formula. What that means is community bankers often consider the borrower’s individual goals and circumstances, and are willing to deviate from the mold to devise custom solutions — tailor fit for their needs and budgets.

“Happy customers make profitable banks,” says Brandon Reichel, a Business Development Officer at the Eagan, Farmington and Minnetonka branches. That means the time and care they put into your success today will pay dividends in the future through your growth and loyalty.

Helpful guidance through tough times

Community bank lenders take this personal approach when you’re facing tough times as well. Which means if someone is turned down for a loan, they’ll take time to advise them on the next steps to get their goals back on track.

“If someone is struggling with their credit, we give them options to build up their credit score,” says Shannon Hoffbeck, the market sales manager for the branches in Redwood Falls, Danube and Morton.

The idea is to set them up for another opportunity to work together, she says.

Giving back to the community

When you bank locally, you amplify the good things that happen right in your community, because some of the profits are invested right back. The passion for giving back at Minnwest is palpable and their effects are extensive. So much so, it’s impossible to capture the reach and impact in a couple of paragraphs.

In 2022, the impact of Minnwest Bank’s giving programs reached over $1 million, benefitting the towns and cities where the employees live and work.

Local control

For starters, each individual branch at Minnwest Bank is allocating some of their profits to donate to local causes. Whether it’s in the town of Morton, population 406, or the bustling suburb of Eagan, a committee at each branch has deep discussions on which local charity or nonprofit receives the donation.

Hoffbeck says their focus on being active in their communities makes everyone attuned to local needs.

That gives us a chance to make sure that the money is given right back to the communities we directly serve," Hoffbeck says. "Deciding where our returns go is both rewarding and impactful.”  

Branch traditions

This spirit of giving back has inspired many branches to start their own traditions of giving and helping.

In Sioux Falls, employees can donate to a community pot for the privilege of wearing jeans on Friday. Last fall, they collected socks for a local charity as well as pots and pans.

“We're all invested in the betterment of our community,” Carstensen says.

The employees at the Eagan branch are proud supporters of the Open Door Pantry. The admiration of that organization’s impact was evident in Brandon Reichel, as he described the 2.7 million pounds of food that fed Dakota County residents in 2022, as well as their human-centered approach. Their recipients can select the items they need and want with a shopping cart — just like a normal trip to the grocery store.

Over the years, Reichel says, Minnwest has donated a few vans as well as a cooler to Open Door, and employees at the branch have worked hard to raise money to help the nonprofit keep paper and sanitary products in stock.

Volunteer hours

Every employee is provided time to volunteer for their schools or local causes — and it’s widely practiced and taken seriously, with employees encouraging and celebrating each other’s generosity.

Carstensen added that the team at Sioux Falls is also booked to serve a meal next month for their quarterly hands-on activity.

In Redwood Falls, Hoffbeck uses her volunteer hours to help with the annual fundraiser for Ramsey Park’s maintenance fund. During the holidays, the employees shop and wrap gifts for local families in need.  

“Do the right thing when no one is looking”

Reichel stressed that when Minnwest gives, there’s no pressure on the organization to broadcast it. Recognition isn’t the point.

“Our CEO is very big on doing the right thing when nobody is looking,” Reichel says. “We don't expect the shout out. We have a separate pool of money for marketing, and this is not that.”

The employees are also customers

Minnwest Bank employees love what they do and what they offer the community. They also stand behind the quality by turning to the bank to meet their own checking, savings and lending needs.

“If we didn't believe in the bank, we wouldn't be customers,” Reichel says. “If you don't currently bank with us yourself, we'd love the opportunity to show you what a community bank is all about and have that opportunity to work with us.”

Discover the Minnwest Bank difference 

At Minnwest Bank, our commitment to our communities and our customers shows up in everything we do. We live here, too. Stop by your local branch and get started on a new checking account today. 

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