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Bank Local, Bank Smart

Financial expertise with a personal touch

Like many small businesses, local banks are being pushed out or acquired by larger conglomerates. Here in the Twin Cities, it’s happening more and more.

“We are seeing a lot of consolidation in the banking industry and it’s not local consolidation,” says Caitlin Winter, a Regional Branch Lead with Bridgewater Bank. “It’s larger, nationwide institutions that are buying local banks here, and local ownership is being lost right now.”

So what can Minnesotans do if they want to keep their finances local and enjoy the more personal service that comes along with that? Bridgewater Bank has the answer.

An entrepreneurial financial institution founded in 2005 in Minnesota by a group of local bankers, Bridgewater Bank has seven branches in the Twin Cities, so it’s easy to find one near your home or business. And just because it’s local doesn’t mean its services aren’t the same as you would find in larger national banks.

“We are a full-service bank, so we offer the full gamut,” says Regional Branch Lead Gayle Larson. “We do have our specialty focuses, such as commercial real estate and manufacturing, but we also offer personal accounts, business accounts, and any loan you could want.”

The big difference with Bridgewater Bank, they stress, is its unconventional attitude. “The word unconventional and everything around it is one of our values,” says Winter. “We’re different from the standard banking relationship that’s usually out there; we have a different feel and a very personal connection with our clients. We truly try to understand what they need and try to make sure we fit their needs best. Unconventional means an elevated experience; it’s what keeps people coming in the door and keeps them banking with Bridgewater.”

Bridgewater Bank also has the advantage of knowing the local economy, what Minnesotans are looking for, and what’s important to them. “The benefits of being a local bank is that we know our clients,” says Larson. “We can go to their warehouses, we can go to their restaurants, gas stations, or construction sites. We have a lot of connections with our clients – we do work for them; they do work for us.”

She adds that many clients say they enjoy a brick and mortar place to go to for their banking. They want that personal service that only comes from in-person interactions; something they can’t get from a 1-800 number. Bridgewater Bank doesn’t even have an 800 number. When you call a branch, you speak with a person, not a machine. When you walk into a branch, you won’t see long lines and the people who greet you will often do so by name.

“We are hiring the right people with the right personalities for Bridgewater to make sure the front-end experience is positive,” says Larson.

“They are a reflection of our entire organization,” adds Winter. “We have a rock-star leadership team, but if we don’t have a client-facing team reflecting how amazing that leadership is, customers won’t know how great it is.”

With many local banks being swallowed up by larger, nationwide banks, it might be hard for some people to put their trust in a local bank. But Bridgewater Bank only has plans to stay local.

“First and foremost, our ownership and our leadership here at Bridgewater really is committed to the Twin Cities,” says Larson. “The market here has made us successful and we want to give back to this community and make sure we are loyal to them.”

There are many aspects to consider when deciding on what bank to put your trust and money into. Whether it’s a personal line of credit or a commercial loan, who you bank with can make a big difference in the overall success of those ventures.

“We ask new clients what they liked about their old bank that we can do,” says Winter. “There are a lot of banks out there, and at the end of the day, we all have money, we all take deposits and we lend it out, so it’s all kind of the same. So we had to find a way to differentiate ourselves and how we do that is through our relationships with people across the board. That’s what has made us successful with people who walk through our doors.”

For Bridgewater Bank, being local also means giving back to the community. Last year, it received an “Outstanding” FDIC rating for its Community Reinvestment Act Performance. This was in recognition of its ability to meet the credit needs of Twin Cities’ low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and communities through lending, investments and service efforts.

As an example, through its community development efforts, a local nonprofit entity was able to build a technical school that helps low- and moderate-income individuals learn the skills needed to lift themselves out of poverty. Other loans were allocated towards affordable housing initiatives. Bank employees themselves volunteered over 1,000 hours to provide financial or technical assistance to promote community development.

Another way the bank gives back to the community is by working hard to process thousands of applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan forgiveness program that allows many businesses to stay open during the pandemic and to continue to pay their employees.

“The work that we do is to build the community and help it thrive,” says Winter “We love to see everyone do well.”

Due to the bank’s growth, a new state-of-the-art corporate headquarters opened last year at 4450 Excelsior Boulevard, right in the heart of St. Louis Park. Its operations and administrative offices occupy the second and third floors of the four-story 84,000 square foot building, which is connected to one of its full-service branches. Other tenants include Hazelwood Food & Drink and Discover Strength and other local, entrepreneurial businesses.

To find out more about how Bridgewater Bank can meet your individual financial needs, go to https://bridgewaterbankmn.com/ or call 952-893-6868. Member FDIC // Equal Housing Lender // NMLS #911973

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