$50,000 Pledge for Confluence Community Arts Center

Mark Willer

Mark Willer

Merchants Bank has pledged $50,000 in support of the new community arts center that is part of the proposed Confluence Project in downtown Eau Claire.

“We believe that the Confluence Project and the new community arts center are important for our community, and as a community bank, we believe it’s our privilege to join our neighbors in our support,” said Merchants Bank – Eau Claire President Mark Willer. “We expect that the project will contribute significantly to both the cultural and economic development of Eau Claire and the entire Chippewa Valley. One of the cornerstones of the Merchants Bank philosophy is to support its customers and the communities it serves by donating volunteer time and making monetary contributions to important community projects.”

Merchants is a full-service bank and is a regional leader in mortgage and business lending. The Eau Claire location, just off London Road, opened in February of this year.

The Confluence Project is a proposed revitalization of property commonly referred to as the “Haymarket Site” at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers. The public-private partnership seeks to construct a community arts center, which is the centerpiece of the project. A privately developed commercial/retail complex that includes housing suitable for University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students also is part of the project.

The Eau Claire City Council has pledged $5 million in city funds toward development of the community arts center. The arts center project also seeks $25 million in state funding and $5 million from Eau Claire County. The remaining arts center construction costs are sought from donations and tax credits. The $26 million commercial/retail and student housing complex is being privately financed.

Other members of the Confluence Project public-private partnership are Haymarket Concepts LLC, composed of Market & Johnson Inc., Commonweal Development Corp. and Blugold Real Estate LLC, a subsidiary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, and UW-Eau Claire. For information about making a commitment to the Confluence Project, contact Wally Rogers, Confluence campaign director, at wallacegrant@msn.com or 715-225-8685.

Merchants Bank Employees Like Sweets and Good Causes, Raise $7,593.38, Including $3,015 in Pie Auction for Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life

Merchants Bank employees Marcus Krings and Ryan Meyer, two members of the Merchants Relay for Life committee, present the Relay for Life check.

Merchants Bank employees Marcus Krings and Ryan Meyer, two members of the Merchants Relay for Life committee, present the Relay for Life check.

The employees at Merchants Bank have a collective sweet tooth, and they are willing to support it, especially when it comes to a great cause like the Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life. During 2014 Relay for Life events at Merchants Bank, Merchants’ employees raised $7,593.38, including $3,015 in a Pie Auction where Merchants employees baked and donated 26 pies that other employees bid on.

“All of our employees have been touched by cancer in some way –  themselves, a relative, a friend – to know we are able to do something to help is a great feeling,” said Kerri Bronk, who coordinates the Merchants Bank participation.

Other activities included a basket raffle, where employees put together gift baskets of special interest. Contributions for the raffle were $1,250. Other events included a bake sale, a book sale, a lunch and luminary sale.

Bronk said the pie auction has been ongoing since 2010, and the Bank has supported the Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life since before she started at Merchants 17 years ago. Bronk said she is just part of a large committee at Merchants that plans and executes the employee events.

“There have been many faces on the committee over the years, but the one constant is Merchants’ commitment to the community,” Bronk said. “The Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life has had a huge impact on the Winona Community, and our employees step up for this cause and many others throughout the year.”

Join us in September!

eNews - EventsBlog
Our staff invites you to join them at these great events throughout the Fall. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed.
September 5: Caledonia Windshield Washing Fundraiser. Join Merchants Bank for a Window Washing Fundraiser to support Caledonia academics, fine arts and athletics! Merchants will donate $5 for every car window washed from 2-5 p.m. to the Caledonia School District. Visit the Merchants drive-thru for your FREE window washing and help support a great cause!
September 6: Mabel Steam Engine Days Parade, immediately following noon parade of engines and tractors on Main Street.
September 12: Spring Grove Windshield Washing Fundraiser. Join Merchants Bank for a Window Washing Fundraiser to support the Spring Grove Athletic Boosters! Merchants will donate $5 for every car window washed from 2-5 p.m. to the Boosters. Visit the Merchants drive-thru for your FREE window washing and help support a great cause!
September 17: Rushford and Lanesboro Community Appreciation, 5-7 p.m., Sylvan Park in Lanesboro. Merchants Bank staff from our Lanesboro and Rushford locations will be serving Fillmore County Cattlemen hamburgers and refreshments.
September 18-19: Applefest Open House, Merchants Bank La Crescent. Merchants Bank staff will be serving locally-grown apples and apple cider in the bank lobby during regular lobby hours. Stop by and say hi!
September 20-21: Triquest, Holmen, WI.
September 21: Applefest Parade, 1 p.m, La Crescent. Merchant Bank staff will be collecting food and cash donations during the parade. Please consider supporting the La Crescent Food Share Program with a donation.
September 27: New Leash on Life 5K Dog Run/3K Fun Walk, 8:30 a.m., Silver Lake Pool in Rochester.
September 30: Retirement Planning: A Whole New Adventure, 5-7:30 p.m., Merchants Bank-Downtown Winona. Stop in for vendor booths and breakout sessions on a variety of topics. Appetizers and refreshments will be served.

 

Get Your Windshield Washed in Caledonia

WindowWashingCALThe employees at Merchants Bank will be hosting a free car windshield washing event in support of Caledonia High School arts, academics and athletics on Friday, September 5 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. For each windshield washed, Merchants will donate $5 to Caledonia High School.

“Many of our employees have a student, know someone who attends or attended Caledonia High School themselves,” said Matt Schuldt, President for Merchants Bank in Caledonia and Spring Grove. “Being able to give back to one of our community partners is a great feeling and we’re looking forward to this fun event.”

All community members are encouraged to visit the Caledonia Merchants Bank drive-thru on Friday, September 5. No customer relationship is required to participate. Free will donations for Caledonia High School will also be accepted.

An opportunity to come home

Greg Evans

Winona native Greg Evans became Merchants Bank’s president late last year. After seven years working for Merchants in the Cannon Falls region, Evans is still transitioning back to life in his hometown. Photo credit: Andrew Link, Winona Daily News

Like father, like son.

That might be a good way to describe new Merchants Bank president Greg Evans, but it’s not the only way. Winona native is another. So is Steamboat Days harbormaster, 10 Days of Giving founder and community leader.

For his father, Gary Evans, another native and Winona business and community leader, when he talks about his son, it’s about how he has stepped into his own and the mark he has left on the community.

“When he came back from college he was Gary Evans’ son,” he admitted. “Now that he’s come back from Cannon Falls, I am Greg Evans’ father. I really like that. He’s a chip off the old block.”

Community is important to Greg, who cites Gary and Merchants Financial Group CEO Rod Nelson as mentors and people who have instilled the importance of community in him. Merchants’ philosophy is that a strong community translates into a strong community bank, and Greg is a follower of that philosophy.

“Community engagement isn’t optional,” Greg said. “It’s an expectation. We believe that when the community thrives and prospers, Merchants can only benefit as a result.”

After studying journalism in college and a short tenure as a reporter in Iowa, Greg came back to Winona and joined Merchants Bank in the late 1980s in marketing. One of his first projects at the bank was starting the annual 10 Days of Giving food drive, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last winter and has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars and millions of tons of food for the Winona food shelf.

Nelson said the 10 Days of Giving was a prime example of how Greg leads by example, and called the growth over the years of the program a testament to his passion for the community.

“It’s gone beyond a Merchants’ thing,” Nelson said. “It’s now a Winona thing.”

Greg was involved with a number of community events and organizations during his time in Winona, capped off — literally — with being named Steamboat Days Harbormaster in 2007.

Later that year, he was promoted to be Merchants regional president for the bank’s newly acquired Cannon Falls division, and Greg began to build ties in his new home.

That, of course, meant community involvement. Greg’s wife, Terri, is a leader with the Cannon Falls Education Foundation. Greg got involved with the Cannon Falls Rotary Club and the Goodhue Habitat for Humanity board, among others.

Greg said he never really had a strategy to come back to Winona, but the chips fell in place last year when he was chosen to replace Rod Nelson as bank president. It wasn’t an easy decision after seven years of building a home and community connections, and Greg said he initially thought Cannon Falls might be the last stop in his career path.

“But we saw an opportunity to come home and be close to family,” Greg said. “It’s just an extraordinary opportunity.”

The transition to Winona is smoothing out, as Greg bounced between the two cities as he looked for his replacement for Cannon Falls. His family is still working on selling the old house and getting one in Winona, but in the meantime has moved from a hotel room to apartments near East Lake Winona, which he appreciates for the beautiful view and quick access to the running path.

Evans said the transition won’t really sink in until after he’s unpacked and settled in, but he said one thing didn’t require a transition — falling back in love with his hometown. The Winona community and its beauty is a tremendous draw, and he’s glad to be back, he said.

“A lot of people leave Winona and chose to come back,” he said. “It says so much of the caring nature of this community.”

While Greg and Gary were never strangers during his time in Cannon Falls, the elder Evans is glad to have his son back in town. He’s proud of all his son has accomplished, and said he knows Greg has a deep love for Winona and that commitment to the community and its people shows in his endeavors.

“He sees the good in others and firmly believes you can’t accomplish things in a vacuum,” Gary said. “It’s a wonderful thing when parents can be proud of their children.”

 

 Story by . Reprinted with permission from Winona Daily News.

Memorial Bike Ride Concludes Saturday

The ninth annual Christian Elder Memorial Bike Ride will conclude in the Merchants Bank parking lot, 7300 147th Street W., at 10 a.m. Saturday. More than $37,000 has been raised so far and more is expected. The money raised will set a record.

Merchants Bank in Apple Valley has been the title sponsor and a major contributor since the ride’s inception. Merchants Bank employees and members of the public are expected to meet John Elder and members of his team as they complete their 900 mile ride winding through the scenic landscape of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The 16-day ride is made in the memory of John’s son, Christian, and benefits Kids n’ Kinship, an organization that connects children from 5-16 years old with volunteer mentors.

“This is a wonderful story, and we are proud to be involved from the beginning. John and his team inspire us all and show us how important it is to be role models for young people,” said Lawrence Stovern, Regional President of Merchants Bank in the Twin Cities. “We are humbled and honored to be involved.”

Beacon House Gets New Phone System

ECPhoneDonation2 copyWhen Merchants Bank acquired the former Alliance Bank location in Eau Claire on February 14, it meant a new phone system for the bank that matched what Merchants had in place at all of its locations. That was good fortune for Beacon House, part of the Eau Claire Interfaith Hospitality Network. Merchants Bank – Eau Claire President Mark Willer worked with Kelly Christianson, Executive Director of Eau Claire Interfaith Hospitality Network, and Pam Kozuch, owner of Telephone Systems Incorporated (TSI), to make sure the phones and components were installed at Beacon House. Merchants supplied the previously used components and TSI provided the installation. Beacon House serves families and pregnant women who are temporarily homeless or at risk of homelessness.