Union State Bank President Christie Obenauer, right, visits the Hazen child care center that her bank and the Bank of North Dakota invested in. Photo by Justine Wiedrich courtesy Yes! Magazine.
Those new to the idea of public banking often ask how a public bank could benefit their own lives. In the Spring 2020 special print edition of Yes! Magazine, journalist Oscar Perry Abello interviews community bankers and entrepreneurs in North Dakota on how the state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND) affects everyday life for people in that state.
As one example, Abello talks with Fowzia Adde, an entrepreneur from Somalia who co-founded the Immigrant Development Center she now runs as Executive Director. Adde’s Center helps recent arrivals develop business plans and apply for loans. BND then partners with local lenders to make loans to these budding businesses. Adde explains how BND’s involvement helped two young grocers from Iraq and Jordan:
“They bought the building, bought the equipment, and they pay less now than what they were paying before [for rent].”
As a second example, Abello explains how BND partnered with a local community bank to convert a church into a worker co-op child care center that now cares for 88 children.
Abello profiles Christie Obenauer, CEO of Union State Bank, who explains BND enables her small town bank to do many things normally beyond its reach.
“I’m only a $150 million bank with just three locations in a rural space. The Bank of North Dakota allows us to be bigger than we are. … We can utilize some of their programs that we wouldn’t be in a position to offer on our own. They just allow us to do big things, even if we’re small.”