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Who could have possibly guessed three weeks ago that we’d be in the situation we are today relative to the Covid-19 virus and its dramatic effects to the global health of humanity and the economy. To say these are unprecedented times (at least during my lifetime) would be a tremendous understatement.

The last few days have been quite a whirlwind with the rollout of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on Friday, April 3rd. Much has been written and discussed about the rollout. And not much of it good. It was an unmitigated disaster. Most of your lenders lived it.

What was good is that I got to witness firsthand the tenacity and perseverance of community bankers as they kept their heads up, battled through the challenges, and didn’t panic - all in the interests of assisting the small businesses in their beloved communities. In some cases, this PPP lifeline is more about saving these businesses – not just assisting.

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I hope this message finds you all enjoying a happy and prosperous 2020. Unfortunately, my Vikings will once again not be playing in the Super Bowl this weekend. But, I’m quite certain that next season is going to be our year. Oh, the curse of being a Vikings fan.

ICBND is excited about our 2020 education and advocacy sessions and encourage you to check them out at https://www.icbnd.com/ Our programming kicks off late next month in Grand Forks with the Emerging Leaders Winter meeting including the Green Room Experience and hockey at the Ralph. UND Hockey is having a fabulous year and the event should be very informational and entertaining.

We will be conducting the FDIC Bankers College on April 21 in Bismarck and April 23 in Fargo. Please plan on attending this event at either venue. The FDIC always comes with timely, germane information that helps us to be better bankers and directors. Similarly, we will be conducting the Women in Community Banking Summit in Fargo and Bismarck that same week with hopes that members can efficiently participate in both events if you’re so inclined. We are also adding a new twist to the Summit so please consider bringing one of your valued customers as well. Those are just a few of the nearly 20 live education sessions already scheduled for this year. So please keep an eye out for more information on all of these events.

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I hope this message finds you recovering from the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s truly my favorite holiday and such a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. My favorite part was spending several days with my two grandsons who make me think that I should have had them first (I hope my wife and three daughters don’t read this…and I’m pretty confident they don’t!) A close second on my favorite list is gravy and stuffing. Why don’t we have this stuff more often during the year? I suppose a regular diet of gravy probably isn’t a wise health move.

As I look back on 2019, I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to represent you all and the interests of community banking in North Dakota and nationally. And, I’m proud of our accomplishments this past year. The 66th Assembly of the North Dakota Legislature convened on January 3 this year and adjourned on April 26. It’s always a busy time during North Dakota’s statutorily-limited 80 day session and while we didn’t get everything we hoped for out of the session, community banking fared well. I often tell people that it’s more of a defensive battle than offensive at our state capitol. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always critical to advocate for our wants and needs. And, we do. But, often we spend more of our time educating and advocating against bad ideas. Sometimes those are bad ideas for community banking and sometimes they are just bad ideas for our communities. And, one thing I’ve learned is that bad ideas can come from anywhere! Much of 2020’s activities will be preparing again for the 2021 session so please stay tuned.

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Hello friends! I’d like to say it’s been a beautiful fall, but I’d be lying. Record rainfall and cold temperatures across much of the state are creating a tremendous hardship for our agricultural producers as they try to get crops off the field. After the rain event a couple weekends ago, I was visiting with a number of ag lenders from both member banks and non-member banks. One gentleman made the comment that there were significant challenges getting equipment TO the fields, much less getting IN the fields as several roads were washed out in that particular market area.

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I hope this message finds you enjoying a great North Dakota summer!

It’s hard to believe August is already here. Of course, that means your ICBND staff is in the home stretch of preparation for our 52nd annual convention. I hope you’re planning to attend. I promise it will be fun and informative! And, don’t forget to participate in Monday evening’s Superheroes them party which is sure to be entertaining.

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