2006 was a year filled with contradiction and cautious optimism. It was a year Americans were looking for change. Americans felt anxiety and hopeful anticipation of the war in Iraq coming to a resolution, while hoping to see our troops come home. Though anxious, Americans continued to live their lives boldly, despite lingering threats of terrorism. Volunteers continued to help re-build the Gulf Coast, devastated earlier by Katrina’s wrath. Locally, area residents helped the victims of the August tornado that ripped through Nicollet and Le Sueur counties. Once again, Americans across the nation rose up to challenges, showing their strength, determination and resiliency.
Our economy has been growing at a solid pace, despite concerns of the inverted yield curve (the 10-year Treasury bill has been lower than the 2-year Treasury rate) and high energy prices. History dictates, according to some economists, that the inverted yield curve reflects a possible upcoming recession. Other economists counter that the supply and demand may influence the inverted yield curve, as well as the dramatic increase in purchases of U.S. Treasuries by foreign investors. Regardless, the short-term interest rates have climbed gradually over the past year, while the long-term mortgage rates have remained fairly stable.
The housing market has noticeably slowed, and fears of a housing bubble have echoed throughout the country. Locally, St. Peter issued forty-five single family housing permitsjust ten fewer than in 2005. The Orchard Ridge Subdivision is still moving along with new home building, and the Standard Lumber Subdivision lots have nearly all been sold. Pheasants Ridge Assisted Living Center opened near the Community Hospital, and the new nursing home next to the hospital is soon to be completed. Construction for the new Chemical Dependency Program for the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center began this past year, as did construction for Gustavus Adolphus College’s new football stadium, which is slated to be completed in 2007. New businesses opening in 2006 included: Anytime Fitness of St. Peter, Daily Grind, PJ’s Pizzeria, Waldo’s Coffee, Stones Throw Gallery & Studio, Arby’s, Dollar General, March Hare B & B, and MJ Rose moved their store into town, as well.
2006 was a highly eventful year in agriculture. The grain market experienced a significant price increase as the year progressed (particularly near year-end.) Much of the gain was related to expanded use of corn for ethanol. The entire renewable energy sector received a great deal of attention, including ethanol, biodiesel, wind power and the so on. The crop yields varied from good to very good for corn and above average to outstanding for soybeans. A relatively dry summer impacted the production to some degree. In addition, the farms that were in the path of the August tornado sustained major damage. The livestock producers enjoyed a generally positive year as well. Hog and cattle markets were relatively strong while the milk prices were down from the prior year. The area has continued to see strong farm land demand for both rental and purchase purposes.
Nicollet County Bank had another busy year, and we have updated our lobby with new burgundy carpeting and chairs. Jay Hansen was hired as a vice president in commercial lending, and our drive-through ATM has been busier than ever! The Jr. Life Savers Club for kids age five through twelve has been growing, and the Saints Club for “kids” age fifty and older had great fun with trips to Pella’s Tulip Festival, Branson and day trips to theaters, the State Fair, and Treasure Island. Our web site at www.nicolletcountybank.com includes more information and fun contests, as well as our Internet Banking.
Joel Hulke, of LPL Investments, has been located at Nicollet County Bank for five and a half years now! Craig Hanson and Ann Menk will be celebrating their 25th anniversary with Nicollet County Bank this year!
Last December marked Nicollet County Bank’s Five-Star designation for the 69th consecutive quarter, which earned us the distinction of “Exceptional Performance Banks” from Bauer Financial Reports. We could not have achieved this distinction without our outstanding employees and our wonderful customers! Thank you for choosing us as your bank. We continually strive to make banking more convenient and efficient for you, and we welcome any suggestions.
Samuel B. Gault, President
Nicollet County Bank
St. Peter, MN 56082