Help Us Support Your Local Food Shelves

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Voting is open now through Thursday, December 10 for Swipe Out Hunger. Cast your vote for your local food shelf and they could receive up to a $5,000 donation. Follow the instructions below to vote:

 

You may place a vote for the same food shelf once a day. Nominated food shelves include:

Apple Valley and Rosemount – The Open Door
Caledonia, Lanesboro, Rushford and Spring Grove – SEMCAC Food Shelf
Cannon Falls – Cannon Falls Food Shelf
Cottage Grove – Friends in Need Food Shelf
Eau Claire – Feed My People
Hampton – Randolph Community Food Shelf
Hastings – Hastings Family Services
La Crescent – La Crescent Food Share Program
Lakeville – 360 Communities
Onalaska – The Hunger Task Force of La Crosse
Red Wing – Red Wing Area Food Shelf
St. Charles – Southeast Minnesota Rural Education & Resource Center
Winona – Winona Volunteer Services

Swipe Out Hunger is a Merchants Bank initiative to support local food shelves in our communities. Food shelves are nominated by our branches and receive a donation based on the number of votes cast through our Facebook page. The total possible donation will increase based on the number of times our customers use their Merchants Bank debit or credit cards between November 30 and December 10.

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You’re Invited – Southeast Minnesota Economic Forum

Blog-EconomicForum

Are you interested in learning more about the economic development initiatives in Southeast Minnesota and the potential impact of these projects? Merchants Bank invites you to the Southeast Minnesota Economic Forum on Tuesday, September 29 as economic experts and industry executives share their economic expectations for 2016.

Featured keynote speakers for this event include:

  • Tim Penny, a former U.S Representative and now President and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
  • Steve Loehr, Vice President of Operations for Kwik Trip

In addition to the two keynotes, the Forum will host two panels to provide economic perspectives from industry experts.

“With the economic initiatives taking place in Rochester, the growth opportunities for our region are exciting and Merchants looks forward to being a part of it,” said John Doyle, President for Merchants Bank in Rochester. “Bringing area business leaders together for an event like this is something to take advantage of.”

As a banking leader in the region, Merchants is proud to partner with the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce as the pinnacle sponsor of the Southeast Minnesota Economic Forum. “Merchants is excited to continue to help businesses grow and thrive as a result of future economic developments,” said Dan Massett, Central Region President for Merchants Bank.

Reserve your spot at the forum by calling the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce at (507) 288-1122 or visiting their website.

Date/Time: Tuesday, September 29 from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Rochester International Event Center, 7333 Airport View Dr. SW
Price: $30 for Chamber members, $40 for Non-members, $270 for a table of six

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Meet Larry Accola, President – Merchants Bank Eau Claire

Merchants Bank Eau Claire

Larry Accola, President of Merchants Bank in Eau Claire

Hometown:
Larry: Pittsville, WI. It’s the exact geographical center of state.

Education:
Larry: I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Originally, I majored in Engineering, but decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to do for a career, so I switched to Business.

I had never considered banking, but one of my professors mentioned there was an opening at Midland Bank in Milwaukee. At the time I worked for Mobil Oil Corporation in Milwaukee. I went to Midland and talked to their HR representative and she encouraged me to consider banking so I could be involved with many different types of businesses. From there, I solicited interviews with several banks in the area and started at what is now, US Bank.

I have never regretted choosing banking. I also completed the Graduate School of Banking three year program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Family:
Larry: I have four children – two boys and two girls – and they’re all grown up. Three of them live near Seattle and the other lives in Austin, TX.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
Larry: One of my customers asked me recently if I ever considered retiring. I honestly haven’t because I really enjoy what I’m doing. I enjoy people and I enjoy commercial lending. I really like being involved with businesses and being a part of their success. I’ve learned a lot from different businesses over the years and I like applying that experience to the businesses I’m working with now to offer helpful solutions and suggestions.

What’s the most important financial lesson you’ve learned in your life?
Larry: Money is of course important and necessary but regardless of compensation, one has to enjoy and bring value to what they do for a living.

What does community banking mean to you?
Larry: Being part of a team. I think banking relationships should be transparent and not adversarial. Ultimately, what’s good for the bank is generally good for the customer and working together with their other professional advisors to make the customer successful is what it’s all about.

I like that we bring value to our customer relationships and create partnerships rather than just concentrating on the services we offer. Making customers successful also brings benefits to their employees and their communities.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Larry: I don’t know…I grew up on a dairy farm and I knew I probably didn’t want to do that. You have to be at the farm all the time and that’s a big commitment. It was a great place to grow up though. Honestly, I don’t know if I really said “this is what I want to be.”

What do you do when you’re not working?
Larry: Unfortunately, my grandkids do not live nearby, but I have some close friends that let me “stand in” as grandpa for their kids. I go to their sporting events to cheer them on, which is a lot of fun. I enjoy pretty much any spectator sport…football, basketball, soccer. I am a casual hunter and I am currently mentoring an 11 year old boy. I also like reading about the finance and banking industry. I just enjoy learning and every day realize how much there is to know.

Tell us something we don’t know.
Larry: What’s that phrase they say? “You can take the boy off of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.” I have three antique tractors, which reminds me of my past. One of them is actually the same make and model as a tractor we had on the home farm. I also had the unique spectrum of experience of attending a one room country school for 8 grades and finishing my education at a 40,000 student urban university.

Learn more about Merchants Bank on our website.

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SBA Loans: Frequently Asked Questions

Merchants Bank Small Business Loans, Commerical Lenders

Are you thinking about starting a small business? Have you heard about the Small Business Administration and the loan programs it offers? You might be wondering if an SBA loan is right for you or simply how SBA loans work. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about SBA loans

1. What is an SBA loan?

While the Small Business administration oversees a number of loan programs, the SBA does not lend money itself. When you apply for an SBA loan, you’ll work with a local bank to receive financing for your project and a portion of the loan is guaranteed by the SBA.

SBA Loan programs include:

  • 7(a) Loan Program – The most common general small business loan offered by the SBA.
  • Microloan Program – Small, short-term small business loans.
  • Real Estate & Equipment Loans or CDC/504 Loan Program – Loans for real estate and equipment.
  • Disaster Loans – Low interest loans to repair or replace items damaged in a disaster.

Learn more about these SBA loan programs and eligibility on the SBA website.

2. Should I apply for an SBA loan or traditional bank loan?

Which loan is right for your business depends on a number of factors. First, you’ll want to know which SBA loan programs you may or may not qualify for. In addition, you’ll want to compare the SBA loan programs versus a traditional commercial loan. While an SBA loan might not be a fit for every business, it may provide certain benefits over traditional loans, in certain situations, including:

  • Longer terms
  • Lower down payments
  • Increased cash flow
  • Flexible repayment options

As an SBA Preferred Lender, Merchants Bank has experience helping businesses choose between SBA and traditional commercial loans. Your local Merchants Bank Commercial Banker can guide you through our options to find the right loan program for you.

Use SBA’s Online Loans and Grants Search Tool to begin research which government financial programs may help your business.

3. What information do I need to complete my loan application?

Educating yourself on the SBA loan processing and knowing what information you need for the application can save you a lot of time. Use these resources to prepare yourself when applying for an SBA loan:

For more information on SBA loans, talk to a Commercial Banker at your local Merchants Bank. We’re proud to be an SBA Preferred Lender.

Subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender.

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How Can I Save Money on My Business Checking Account?

Business Checking

On average, banks offer five different business checking account options, according a comparison study by online resource NerdWallet. If you then consider the number of banks or credit unions in your community, the sheer quantity of choices for business checking may begin to seem overwhelming. To find an account that fits your business, and ultimately may save you money, use the guide below.

1. What type of business do you own?

Some banks offer special accounts to the following types of businesses:

  • Sole proprietorship, government-owned or a non-profit: These accounts usually earn interest, include lower fees and allow more transactions.
  • Small Business: Small Business accounts typically have lower fees and allow fewer transactions.

Merchants Bank offers Small Business, Business, Nonprofit Business and Interest-Bearing Business Checking accounts.

2. How many transactions do you typically make per month?

Many business checking accounts have a pre-determined transaction limit per month. For example, the average business checking account allows 175 transactions per month*. When a business goes over the limit, the bank may charge the business a fee per item. The average excess transaction fee is $0.40 per item and can be as high as $0.75.* If your business makes a large amount of transactions, look for a checking account with a higher transaction limit.

You’ll also want to take into consideration the type of transactions and which you use the most often – check, deposit slip, debit card, point-of-sale, ATM**, etc. Banks may charge different fees or no fee depending on the type of transactions.

Merchants Bank offers different transaction limits per Business Checking account and the type of transaction.

3. Do you need to deposit a large amount of cash on a regular basis?

Some business checking accounts also place a limit on the amount of cash that can be deposited into an account and charge a fee for every $100 in excess of this limit. The average cash handling fee is $0.15 per $100 in excess and these fees can be as high as $0.75.*

If your business deposits cash regularly, look for a checking account with a high cash deposit limit or one that offers no charge for cash handling.

Merchants Bank does not charge a cash handling fee as part of a Business Checking account.

Learn more about Business Checking at Merchants Bank or contact a Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank to open an account today.

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*How Business Checking Fees Work: A Beginners Guide by NerdWallet
**ATM surcharge and foreign fees may apply.
No minimum deposit required to open Merchants Bank Small Business Checking, Business Checking, Interest-Bearing Business Checking or Nonprofit Business Checking accounts.

 

Concerned About FDIC Insurance Coverage for Your Business?

Merchants Bank, CDARs, ICS

Deanna Ellinghuysen, Merchants Bank Customer Service Representative and CDARS/ICS expert, explains the details and benefits of CDARS (Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service) and ICS (Insured Cash Sweep) accounts.

Q: How does a CDARS or ICS account work?
Deanna: CDARS, a Certificate of Deposit account, and ICS, an insured cash sweep account, provide additional FDIC insurance for deposits in excess of $250,000 – the standard insurance amount set by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Your money is automatically deposited in amounts of less than $250,000, which allows for compounding of interest, through a network of pre-selected, highly rated banks. This ensures that your entire amount on deposit is FDIC insured.

Q: Why would my business open a CDARS or ICS account?
Deanna: If your business has over $250,000 worth of excess funds and is concerned about FDIC insurance, a CDARS or ICS account is for you. If you want to protect your large deposits with FDIC insurance…these two products are the tools. It’s really about peace of mind. In addition, if you’re publicly funded, a CDARS or ICS account could help you avoid the extra bookwork associated with pledged funds.

Q: What are the terms rates for CDARS and ICS accounts?
Deanna: CDARS accounts are similar to other certificates of deposit at Merchants Bank. Businesses can choose a term from four weeks up to three years. The rates follow our CD rates by market and can be found at merchantsbank.com.

ICS accounts allow for more flexibility because it works like a savings account. Businesses can make unlimited deposits, there is no minimum balance and six withdrawals are allowed per month. Current rates can be found at merchantsbank.com.

Q: How do I open a CDARS or ICS account for my business?
Deanna: You can contact the Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank to start the process. We open it for you and the distribution of funds to other banks is automatic. We like to say these accounts are great because the customer works with one bank, has one rate and gets one statement. It’s that simple.

To learn more about CDARS and ICS for your business, contact us.

CDARS and ICS accounts are also available for individuals. Ask us for more details.

What is Mortgage Pre-Approval and Why Does it Matter?

Merchants Bank, Mortgage, Pre-approval

In 2014, approximately a third of Merchants Bank customers who applied for a construction or mortgage loan also took the step to get pre-approved. While mortgage pre-approval should be a crucial part of the home buying process, buyers don’t always perceive it as necessary or valuable.

What is mortgage pre-approval?
Mortgage pre-approval is a simple application process that can be completed in person or online to determine if you qualify for a mortgage. Your credit and income information are the main factors in determining qualification. If you do qualify, a pre-approval will also let you know the mortgage amount qualify for.

Why should I get pre-approved?

  1. Find your house faster.
    Mortgage pre-approval will give you a clear picture of the type of home you can afford. You’ll be able to narrow your housing search to homes within your price range and save yourself the heartache of falling in love with a house outside of your price range.
  2. Know your potential expenses.
    With a pre-approval, you’ll have a set loan amount you’ve been approved for prior to property selection. Your pre-approval should also determine how large of a down payment will be needed. In addition, make sure to take into account other potential housing expenses such as a home inspection, fees (realtor, appraisal, filing fees, etc.) and taxes. With all of this information, you’ll be able to make accurate predictions for your housing expenses and mortgage payment.
  3. Have confidence and move quickly when making an offer.
    Some of the best homes can sell quickly and if you don’t have your paperwork in order, another person may make an offer on your dream home before you can. With pre-approval you avoid the hassle and can have confidence that you’re putting in your best offer. Plus, sellers appreciate the assurance that comes with buyers who are already pre-approved for a mortgage.

Interested in applying for mortgage pre-approval? Visit our website to or your local Merchants Bank.

Subject to credit approval.