Native Art (new)
- Native Art (new)
Other new pages under "Cool Links" on:
Native-owned bank opens in south Minneapolis Written by Aimee LoiselleWednesday, March 11 2009
On March 2, Woodlands National Bank opened its first branch office in the Twin Cities. Located at 11th Street and Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, it will provide a full range of personal and business services to the community.Woodlands National Bank is owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and headquartered in Hinckley. It has branches in Onamia, Hinckley, Sturgeon Lake, the Mille Lacs reservation, and Cloquet. The bank focuses on serving minorities, and President and CEO Lew Anderson looks forward to working with the diverse communities of the Phillips neighborhood.
Anderson says that Woodlands National Bank recently received an “Outstanding” in its Community Reinvestment Act Performance Evaluation. The federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency conducts the assessment, which covers a bank’s record of meeting the credit needs of its entire community, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, consistent with safe and sound operation. Only the most deserving banks receive the high rating.
Anderson is excited to bring this expertise to Minneapolis, “We want to bring this level of service to Native people and to all folks in the Phillips area.”Anderson has been a major force for bringing the bank to the urban Native community. “It has been his vision to open this branch,” said Joanne Whiterabbit (Ho-Chunk), who has been hired as the branch manager. “He wants the bank to provide opportunities to the entire Indian community.”In 2008 the Woodlands National Bank was invited by the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) and the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce to meet with Minneapolis- based Native organizations to discuss the possibility of establishing a bank that would serve the Franklin Community and Native Americans in particular. Anderson pursued the prospect and received support from NACDI, MAICC and other community organizations.“When we open an office in a new location, I like to invite a community member to join the Board and provide feedback,” Anderson said.Anderson says experienced mortgage and commercial bankers are only an hour away and can be at the Minneapolis location all day if clients need them. “All the branch offices also have video conferencing, so when we need to meet, we can all meet face-to-face, if not in person,” Anderson said. “We have a television and camera set up in Minneapolis, so it will be a full part of the bank network.”
Whiterabbit says the bank brings all the products of a big bank but with the benefits of a community bank that knows what is happening in Indian communities. She’s particularly excited to bring the bank’s expertise in HUD Section 184 to Minneapolis.“It’s a program tailored to Native people, to help get them into homes and to help with refinancing,” she said. “It is a new federal program and not many banks in the United States participate.”As clients join, Woodlands National Bank will add more staff. “We want to be responsive to the community,” Whiterabbit said. “If we need commercial lenders or more bankers at the Minneapolis branch, we will hire them.”The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe started the bank when it bought First State Bank of Onamia in 1996, becoming only the third Indian tribe in the United States to own a bank. The bank also became the first Native-owned bank to be granted a national charter.At that time, Mille Lacs Band was looking to diversify its financial investments. “The band has a very successful gaming business,” Anderson said. “But the bank allows it to expand its opportunities and increase economic development.”
The bank is part of the band’s overall efforts to overcome economic stagnation and high levels of joblessness in the Mille Lacs Reservation area.When the bank was first purchased by the Mille Lacs Band, it had $17 million in assets. Within three years, its assets had increased nearly 50%. That prompted Mille Lacs leaders to acquire Rural American Bank in Hinckley, with a branch office in Sturgeon Lake.
The bank has expanded over the past ten years to bring its full-service banking and unique approach to more customers. The bank offers personal, business, and real estate services as well as ATMs, online banking, IRAs, and safety deposit boxes.“ATMs were unfamiliar to many Mille Lacs Band members,” Anderson wrote in a 2001 article. “But a marketing campaign resulted in dozens of new accounts, moving account-holders into mainstream banking. Among other advantages, they can now receive direct deposits from Social Security and other federal benefits programs.”In addition to Whiterabbit as branch manager, there will also be a full-time teller and banker at the new location. The bank will be open Monday through Friday with the possibility of Saturday hours if clients express a need.
Woodlands National Bank is also a founding member of the North American Native Bankers Association which recognizes that tribally-owned banks are fundamental to tribes’ economic self-determination and works to increase the number of Indian-owned financial institutions.Woodlands National Bank is located at 1113 E. Franklin Ave., Suite 108 (in the Ancient Traders Complex) in Minneapolis. For more information call 612-230-6960.