Archive for News

President’s Message

Things are feeling quite a bit more normal with the recent Fourth of July celebration and festivities that even included the annual parade. I was beginning to wonder when we would be able to say that, and it sure felt good. While things are starting to return to normal, we continue to follow the COVID recommended guidelines and have left the Plexiglas up at our teller stations for continued protection. We realize that some people still want or need to wear masks and we encourage you to request our staff to do the same when they are interacting with you. Hopefully the end is in sight.

I would like you to be aware that we now have online loan applications and more online enhancements on the horizon. We continue to keep up with technology as we work through a core system upgrade this summer and early fall. While doing that we will continue to keep our small town touch, including answering the telephone. Along those lines, it sure is good to be able to have a friendly handshake again.

I would like to commend our staff for the volunteer hours they put into our communities. Please check our website for more information on the organizations and activities they support. They are passionate about doing this because this is where they live and many of us grew up. I am very proud of our staff and what they have done for the communities we serve.

Larry Peterson - CEO
Larry D. Peterson, President

More Staff Promotions!

We are excited to announce more staff on the move!

Christina has been promoted to Vault Customer Service Representative and while you’ll still see her helping our customers in the lobbies, she will also assist in ensuring our teller lines are running smoothly and efficiently.

Shawndra has been promoted to Loan Assistant. While we will miss her in our lobbies with the Retail department, she will continue to provide customer service more through loan processing in our Loan department.

Congratulations to Christina and Shawndra!

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ICBM Impact

Community bank provides local hospital critical access to PPP funding

By Matt Doffing

COVID-19 could not have struck at a worse time for Mercy Hospital and its CEO Mike Youso. Months into merger talks with Essentia Health in March, the rise in coronavirus cases in Minnesota sent revenues reeling for the Moose Lake-based, critical-access hospital.

“When COVID-19 hit, we largely shut down all outpatient services — a large portion of our patient activity. We also saw the emergency room and inpatient activity drop off dramatically,” said Youso. “That translated to an almost-instantaneous, 50-percent reduction in revenue.”

While Mercy Hospital was a testing site for coronavirus, it sent COVID-19 patients to Duluth for treatment. Furloughs, which began in late March, were unavoidable for most employees. “It was nearly disastrous,” said Youso. “People avoided the hospital just out of fear of getting the virus.”

Furloughs, though, did not resolve the revenue-expense mismatch. Its emergency room remained open, and it needed staff to stay operational, even at the low activity levels allowed by Minnesota’s executive orders. Mercy Hospital needed a Paycheck Protection Program loan.

As Youso prepared to choose a lender, he consulted peers at hospitals in the Twin Cities. They already had gone through the process and highly recommended using a community bank for Mercy’s PPP loan. “One of my colleagues tried to get a PPP loan through a big bank, and they had so many struggles,” Youso said. “They went to a community bank and it got done.”

He decided to go to a community bank first. He chose First National Bank of Moose Lake. “It was the smoothest process I have ever experienced in banking,” said Youso, who was CFO of Fairview Hospital for 28 years and oversaw that system’s banking relationships. “It was so smooth and easy; I was honestly kind of shocked.”

Mercy Hospital chose the community bank’s experience when it chose its lender. “We are a locally-owned, employee-owned community bank; our only locations are in Moose Lake,” said Larry Peterson, president of First National Bank of Moose Lake. “We are deeply vested in the community and its success.

“When COVID-19 hit and businesses were impacted by huge revenue declines, we knew we had to be there for them immediately,” Peterson continued. “Our loan staff worked long hours, seven days a week, to understand the ever-changing PPP loan process, and to contact customers and offer assistance in getting applications submitted. I could not be prouder of our staff and the number of loans we submitted to help keep our community strong.”

Timely access to emergency funding allowed Youso to refocus on finalizing merger talks. “It was one less thing to worry about while we were trying to work through this merger,” he said. “We just closed the deal on August 1.”

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