2010 was a year filled with contrasts. Our nation’s sluggish economy challenged Americans to be patient, tolerant, persistent and hopeful. Nationally, our unemployment rate remained high at 9.8%, one out of four households owed more on their mortgage than the current value, the war in Afghanistan continued, and our nation has incurred a record national debt totaling more than $14 trillion for the first time ever. We moved past the shock and awe of the financial bailouts and “Ponzi schemes” to a collective “let’s get our economy rolling again” attitude. The goal is the same, while the strategy in reaching that goal has differed. Thus, the election mirrored the discontent of the American people, voting in a Republican House and voting out many incumbents to try to change direction moving forward with our economic recovery. The recovery process has been slow.
Conversely, technology has moved ahead fast and furiously! Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.” Facebook has more than 500 million users now, connecting friends and relatives all over the world, with a click of a button. Apple unveiled the IPad, and ITunes reached its 1 billionth download. WikiLeaks became a household name throughout the world, disseminating what was believed to be private US military information via its whistle-blower internet site. E-readers the Nook and Kindle have competed with books and newspapers. New applications or “apps” kept popping up constantly, with more conveniences, navigation systems and even mobile banking!
Worldwide, China overcame Japan to become the second largest economy, North Korea threatened South Korea, Greece and Ireland needed financial bailouts from the European Union, and Haiti is still trying to recover from the January earthquakes that left 1.3 million people homeless. BP’s oil rig exploded, killing eleven workers and caused the worst oil leak in U.S. history, while Iceland’s volcano erupted, sending ash across Europe and canceling air flights. Body scanners showed up at airports, along with lots of “pat down” jokes. Thirty-three Chilean miners were trapped underground for sixty-nine days, and were all rescued through a tedious, yet successful process. Lady Gaga took the stage with her outrageous outfits, while Brett Favre purportedly was more active off the field than on. Minnesota native Lindsey Vonn skied her way to a Gold Medal at the Vancouver Olympics, and the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961!
Locally, St. Peter welcomed several new business: River’s Edge Quality Care Pharmacy, Stone Valley General Store, Kwik Trip, Charme la Vie, My Father’s Daughter, El Agave and Hobber’s Bar & Grill. We said “goodbye” to Richard’s and the Steel Horse, and saw Autotronics move to a new building while Country Kitchen became the City Grille. The St. Peter Food Co-op was successful in raising $780,000 in member-owner investments to start their re-model-construction at the old Nielsen building. Lewis Giesking was honored with the Director of the Year Award by the American Public Works Association, and St. Peter’s new Broadway Water Treatment Facility was completed. Anders Ringdahl-Mayland became our Chamber President-CEO in April, and the finishing touches were completed on St. Peter's downtown federal stimulus project. The St. Peter Regional Treatment Center built a new forensic nursing home, and Gustavus Adolphus College broke ground for a new academic building just west of Christ Chapel. Though 2010 saw only seventeen new construction building permits for residential and commercial projects, St. Peter's building permits including remodels, roofing, siding and windows totaled two hundred ninety four.
Agriculture continued to be a highly important aspect of our economy. Locally the weather was somewhat erratic, but in general the crop yields were very good to excellent. In addition, the grain prices reached relatively high levels the latter part of the year. The increase in commodity markets was driven by a number of factors, including exports (generally weak dollar and improved global demand), domestic use and ethanol, as well as weather related production problems (primarily foreign nations). Farmers also experienced an increase in some input costs as the year progressed. The livestock sector enjoyed some reasonably good returns during part of 2010 but also was impacted by higher feed costs later in the year. The effect on producers who raised most of their own feed was less severe than on those operators who were dependent on purchased commodities. The farm land market has remained strong and was positively influenced by increased commodity prices. Overall the agricultural community enjoyed a generally good to very good year.
Nicollet County Bank had another good year! Our mission of "being here for the long run" has paid off during tough economic times. We are fortunate to have outstanding employees, directors and customers! Doug Miller and Lisa Gault both celebrated their 25-year anniversaries this past year, and Peter Nelson, with LPL Financial Services has been located here at NCB for over three years now! Looking ahead, we are excited to meet tomorrow's challenges. We will continue offering convenient products and services, and strive to give you the best customer service possible! We truly appreciate your business. Thank you for banking with Nicollet County Bank.
Samuel B. Gault, President
Nicollet County Bank
St. Peter, MN 56082