News Column

Heitkamp Highlights Critical Role of North Dakota Community Banks at North Dakota Convention

August 17, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. - U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, today spoke with North Dakota's independent community bankers about the vital role they play in supporting small businesses, farmers, and rural communities all across the state.

Speaking at the Independent Community Banks of North Dakota's annual convention, Heitkamp highlighted how community banks provide nearly half of small business and farm loans in North Dakota, where 96 percent of the businesses are considered small businesses. She also noted that community banks are often the only way rural families and small businesses can access the saving and lending markets.

"Having grown up in a small, rural town in southeastern North Dakota, I have seen firsthand just how critical community banks are to the livelihoods of families, businesses, and communities all across our great state," said Heitkamp. "They help hardworking families buy homes, provide loans for small businesses and farms, and help rural communities grow and thrive. I will continue to work to improve our housing finance system and address regulatory burdens that affect community banks in rural areas throughout North Dakota. Promoting local economic growth is critical to our state's success and I'll fight to make sure community banks can make North Dakota an economic model for the nation."

In the Senate, Heitkamp has been a leader in supporting local banks and making sure they have opportunities to succeed without facing undue regulations. In August 2013, she brought Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg to North Dakota to hear directly from bankers in the state about the importance of local and community banks to helping small businesses and communities thrive. In March 2014, Heitkamp urged President Obama to carefully consider the concerns of community banks when naming a nominee for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and called on him to nominate someone to the Board who understands the lifelines community banks play in rural areas so those voices are heard.

In May, Heitkamp voted to advance bipartisan legislation to reform the nation's housing finance system, building on a bill she helped introduce in June 2013. The legislation includes proposals Heitkamp pushed for to support North Dakota's rural and Native American communities and protect access to the secondary mortgage market for small lenders.

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Source: Congressional Documents & Publications

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