2008. Recession, bailouts, layoffs and unemployment were the words echoed throughout each day via the news, internet and even at the water coolers. Across the United States, the number of unemployed people grew by 3.6 million. In our great state of Minnesota, 55,400 jobs (or 2%) have been lost this past year. Our national government bailed out Bear Sterns, AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and the financial companies who requested aid under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. A trillion dollar stimulus program is being considered to help jump-start our economy through growth of new infrastructure across the nation. These are challenging times as we are forced to find solutions in un-chartered territory. People today feel losses of security, employment, earnings and equity (value) in their homes due to declining market values. Despite these trying times, a collective optimism resonates within our nation.
The FDIC temporarily increased coverage for bank depositors from $100,000 to $250,000 through December 31, 2009 to help instill confidence. The Fed Funds rate was lowered dramatically to 1%. New leaders are offering new ideas to spur the economy. Today, Americans hold on to hope and change. Change was the theme of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Regardless of whether people agree or disagree with his policies as we move forward, the fact that he has been elected as the first ever African-American President of the United States of America, signifies change in our lifetime.
Locally, we felt the repercussions of the stagnant economy when St. Peter Ford closed its doors. Single family building permits in St. Peter decreased from forty-five in 2006 to a mere seven in 2008. However, we built additions and remodeled single family homes as well as businesses. The Nicollet County Treaty Site constructed an elaborate exhibit space with the help of state funds and local donations. Pheasant’s Ridge built on an addition to their assisted living facility. Richard’s Restaurant completely remodeled the Konsbruck Hotel into a new upscale restaurant and hotel. Anytime Fitness has new ownership, and other new businesses that opened include: Walt’s Hook, Line & Sinker, Hulsebus Chiropractic, Sabine Gourmet, Computer Plus Solutions, Artistic Impressions, Pieces (women’s clothing), Cooks and Company, Kokomo’s at Shoreland, St. Peter Community Child Care, and Mary Fisher (hair stylist.) Gustavus Adolphus College introduced their new college president, Dr. Jack Ohle, and the campus of St. Peter Regional Treatment Center has become a more secure facility with limited public access.
The past year was an exceptionally unusual period for agriculture. For a number of reasons, corn, soybean and wheat prices reached historically high levels during the year, but retreated substantially during the latter part of the twelve month period. The high grain prices had a major influence on the feed cost for livestock operators and impacted their profitability. In addition, crop input costs spiked to very high levels which will have an effect on the 2009 production costs. Much of the planting was delayed due to weather/field conditions which resulted in a delayed harvest. Accordingly, harvest costs (especially drying) were significantly higher than usual. Overall, the corn yields were very good to outstanding, with the soybean production more variable. Land sales and rental demand both remain strong.
People today look for heroes, humor and hope. We cheered on Michael Phelps as he broke Mark Spitz’ Olympic swimming record by winning eight gold medals. We cheered on our hometown hero, Joe Mauer at the TWINS games. We celebrated the re-opening of the 35W Bridge in Minneapolis. Comedians like Frank Caliendo made us laugh while impersonating celebrities and politicians. At home, families played tennis and golf in their living rooms with the new electronic Wii game.
Nicollet County Bank had another good year, celebrating our 125th Anniversary since our charter in 1883. Our sound banking principles and excellent employees contributed to earning our 78th consecutive 5-Star Bank Rating from Bauer Financial Reports. While some financial institutions have struggled, Nicollet County Bank now ranks in the top 4% of the nation for safety, soundness and security. Our Jr. Life Savers Club has been growing, and our Saints Club took a wonderful trip to Italy and enjoyed many daytrips and social events. Our PC Banking has become more popular and our customers can even print off their own bank statements if they so choose. Business customers have been starting to hear about our new Remote Deposit Capture, where they can actually run their own deposits through a machine at home rather than bring them to the bank. Technology is amazing!
Sam Sr. was inducted to the St. Peter High School Hall of Fame last July, and Ken Rossow celebrated his 25th anniversary here at NCB! We ended the year on another positive note, as Connect Business Magazine featured our bank president as a runner up for Business Person of the Year. We are proud to have been a fixture in the St Peter community for more than 125 years. Our goal is to be here long-term, for your future. We truly appreciate your business. Thank you for banking with Nicollet County Bank.
Samuel B. Gault, President
Nicollet County Bank
St. Peter, Minnesota