Merchants Bank Looks to “Swipe Out Hunger” for Area Food Shelves

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Merchants Bank will be donating five cents each time a Merchants Bank credit card or debit card is used between August 1-8, up to a total of $10,000, to area food shelves during “Swipe Out Hunger,”the Bank’s fifth annual Facebook Giveaway.

The “Swipe Out Hunger”giveaway will work like this:

  • Supporters of area food shelves will be able to vote once per day between August 1-8 for their chosen food shelves on the Merchants Bank Facebook page (www.facebook.com/merchantsbank).
  • At the end of the giveaway, the food shelves with the top three vote totals will receive donations of $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second place and $1,000 for third place. All other food shelves will evenly split the remaining $5,000.

Participating food shelves were nominated by Merchants Bank locations (Bank locations making the nomination are noted in parentheses). A number of locations nominated the same food shelf based on which organization serves the needs of their community. Participating this year are:

  • 360 Communities (Lakeville)
  • Cannon Falls Food Shelf (Cannon Falls)
  • Channel 1 (Rochester)
  • Feed My People (Eau Claire)
  • Friends in Need Food Shelf (Cottage Grove)
  • Hastings Family Service (Hastings)
  • The Hunger Task Force (Onalaska)
  • La Crescent Food Share (La Crescent)
  • The Open Door Pantry (Apple Valley and Rosemount)
  • Randolph Food Shelf (Hampton)
  • SEMCAC (Caledonia, Lanesboro, Rushford, Spring Grove)
  • Hometown Resource Center (St. Charles)
  • Winona Volunteer Services (Winona, Lakeside, Goodview)

Last year, Merchants Bank donated $10,146.67 to local food shelves through Swipe Out Hunger and 5,841 votes were cast. Everyone is invited to vote for your favorite food shelf by visiting the Merchants Bank Facebook page during the campaign (August 1-8).

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, La Crescent, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Our Community Banking Commitment

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A few weeks ago, Merchants Bank was recognized by the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce at its annual Business Celebration Luncheon as the Business of the Year for 2017. Eligibility for this distinction was based on a comprehensive assessment of outstanding achievement in all five of these categories:

  • Economic Development
  • Workforce Development
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Business Achievement
  • Community Engagement

While this specific recognition was isolated to Merchants’ contributions to the vitality of the Greater Winona area, the documented achievement for the categories identified above as part of the nomination process was based on the collective team effort that is contributed to by every one of my teammates in each of our markets throughout the entire region.

At Merchants, we do what we do not for the purpose of accolades and recognition, but simply to contribute to the economic well-being of our communities and the financial success of our clients. That said, we sincerely appreciate this recognition by the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce. Most gratifying was the fact that quantifiable achievements in each of the five categories of the nomination was representative of business as usual for the Merchants organization during the past year, not the result of nonrecurring incidents of extraordinary achievement.

In accepting the award at the recognition banquet in May, I articulated that at Merchants we have a fundamental philosophy as it relates to our commitment to community banking: Simply, we know that when our clients and communities thrive and prosper, we, too, will do well. That approach has served us well for more than 140 years, and it’s what drives the commitments we make to providing active community leadership.

It’s an appropriate time of the year to share with you the importance we place on active community involvement and engaged leadership in each of our markets. With the arrival of summer, it becomes festival season for this entire region. That means you won’t have to look real hard to see visible signs of the extraordinary involvement in community activities that all of us at Merchants take great pride in demonstrating.

Community leadership is a critical differentiating component of the Merchants Brand. The members of our employee team are truly humbled by the opportunity we have to serve the needs of our clients and communities. Again, when our clients and communities prosper, we know we, too, will do well. And in the case of the recent Chamber award, I would add that when one wins, we all win! Thank you for your continued trust and confidence. It’s your loyalty that allows us to continue to do great work in our communities!

Merchants Bank Gives Away $5,340 for Money Ball, Including $2,670 to the Apple Valley Basketball Booster Club

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Pictured with a check for $2,670 (l-r): Brian Wester of Merchants Bank, Zach Goring, Apple Valley High School Boys Varsity Head Coach, Debbie Jones, AVBBC President, and Marty Christiansen, AVBBC Treasurer.

Merchants Bank presented a check for $2,670 to the Apple Valley Basketball Booster Club, matching the amount Merchants gave away to Apple Valley school district students during 2016-2017 Money Ball promotion, according to Brian Wester of Merchants Bank, who coordinated the program.

“I would like to thank Merchants Bank for its generous donation to our basketball program. Our goal is to provide a positive basketball experience for our kids playing high school basketball. Through the donation made by Merchants Bank, we are able to give our kids the best opportunities to be successful. Thank you!” said Apple Valley High School Boys Varsity Head Coach Zach Goring.

Two students were randomly chosen to participate during halftime of each Apple Valley boys’ varsity basketball games. Students won a $10 gift card for a made lay-up and a $25 gift card for a made free throw. Students were awarded $100 for a made half-court shot, with the Money Ball rolling over if the half-court shot was not made.

Wester said seven students made half-court shots during the season, including two students who each made $700 for making shots on the last night.

Merchants Bank Twin Cities locations include Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. In total there Merchants Bank has 21 locations in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin, including Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

No customer relationship was necessary to enter or win. Merchants Bank employees and family members were not eligible to enter or win.

Merchants Bank Establishes Rochester Advisory Board of Directors

Rochester Advisory Board

Pictured (l-r): Bruce Ryan (Board Chairman), Ryan Windows & Siding; John Beatty, Dunlap & Seeger, P.A.; James Rogers, Mayo Clinic; Melissa Brinkman, Custom Alarm; Aaron Benike, Alvin E. Benike, Inc.

As Merchants Bank continues to grow in Rochester, Merchants has established a Rochester Advisory Board of Directors, according to Advisory Board Chairman Bruce E. Ryan.

“Merchants Bank has continued its growth throughout the area and in Rochester, partly because of our model of local decision making in each market,” said Ryan, who also serves on the Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) Board. MFGI is the holding company that owns Merchants Bank. “As we continue to grow our market share, putting our local Advisory Board in place in Rochester is the next logical step.”

Ryan, President of Ryan Windows & Siding, Inc., has been joined on the Advisory Board by John Beatty, an Attorney at Dunlap & Seeger, Aaron Benike, President and Co-Owner at Benike Construction, Melissa Brinkman, CEO of Custom Alarm, and James Rogers, Chair, Department of Business Development at Mayo Clinic.

“We are fortunate to have this talented group of leaders helping to guide our decisions in Rochester,” said Merchants Bank – Rochester President John Doyle. “They believe in Rochester’s growth potential and know that Merchants Bank has the resources and staff to help individuals and businesses reach and exceed their goals.”

MFGI President and CEO Greg Evans said the Merchants Bank culture is one of the reasons the Advisory Board members chose Merchants.

“It is important to all of our team members to know our customers by name, and to make sure those customers are truly satisfied with their experiences with Merchants Bank,” Evans said. “Our team members spend time volunteering in the community to make it better. That is part of what makes a community bank like ours important to the people we serve. As people who have exhibited a commitment to improving Rochester, I think that is important to our Advisory Board.”

MFGI recently announced its second year in a row of record earnings, with Rochester again being one of the top performers. The Board and Advisory Board leadership structure is well-established in the Merchants culture and has contributed to the growth of the organization.

MFGI owns 21 Merchants Bank locations, including Minnesota locations in Rochester, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Additionally, MFGI also owns Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Meet the Winners of Merchants Bank’s Money Ball in Cannon Falls

Jenny Holz from Merchants Bank pictured with winners Avery Rustad (left) and Ashlyn Sjoquist (right).

During the Cannon Falls and Kasson-Mantorville Girl’s basketball game Friday, January 20, two students claimed prizes for making shots during Merchants Bank’s Money Ball, according to Jenny Holz, who is coordinating Money Ball for Merchants Bank.

Avery Rustad, a 4th grader, made a lay-up and free throw and earned $15. Ashlyn Sjoquist, an 8th grader, made a free throw and a 3-pointer to earn $35.

“It was a lot of fun, and we were happy that Avery and Ashlyn were such good shots,” Holz said. “I hope we have a student make the half-court shot next time.”

To be eligible, students sign up before halftime of the varsity game. Two contestants are then chosen randomly, one from 1st-5th grade and another from 6th-12th grade. Each contestant has a minute to make shots. The 1st-5th grader wins $5 for a made lay-up, $10 for made free throw, and then if both shots have been made, the student has one chance to win $25 for a made 3-pointer. If a 3-pointer isn’t made, the money rolls over to the next game. The 6th-12th grader wins $10 for a made free throw, $25 for a 3-pointer, and if both shots have been made, the student has one chance to win $100 for a half-court shot. If the half-courter isn’t made, the money rolls over to the next game.

The next chance for students to take part in Money Ball in Cannon Falls is the Boy’s game Feb. 3 against Kenyon-Wanamingo. There will also be a chance for students to take part in the Girl’s game Feb. 10 against Goodhue.

Money Ball is at Cannon Falls High School for 4 Games in 2016-2017

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Merchants Bank’s Money Ball will be making its debut in Cannon Falls for four games during the 2016-2017 basketball season, according to Jenny Holz, who is coordinating Money Ball for Merchants Bank.

To be eligible, students sign up before halftime of the varsity game that night. Two contestants are then chosen randomly, one from 1st-5th grade and another from 6th-12th grade. Each contestant has a minute to make shots.

The 1st -5th grader wins $5 for a made lay-up, $10 for made free throw, and then if both shots have been made, the student has one chance to win $25 for a made 3-pointer. If a 3-pointer isn’t made, the money rolls over to the next game. The 6th-12th grader wins $10 for a made free throw, $25 for a 3-pointer, and if both shots have been made, the student has one chance to win $100 for a half-court shot. If the half-courter isn’t made, the money rolls over to the next game.

Money Ball will take place during high school home games:

Boys’ Games:

  • Dec. 30         New Life Academy
  • Feb. 3            Kenyon-Wanamingo

Girls’ Games:

  • Jan. 20          Kasson-Mantorville
  • Feb. 10          Goodhue

No customer relationship is necessary to enter or win. Merchants Bank employees and family members are not eligible to enter or win.

“10 Days of Giving” Food Drive Has a Good Beginning

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Through Tuesday, Merchants Bank’s 28th annual “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive was at 97,036 pounds of food collected.

The number of pounds of food collected included $47,976 in cash and 1,084 pounds of food. Included in the amount was a $10,000 anonymous donation. Two pounds of food are counted for each dollar collected. Through the same time last year, 117,381 pounds of food had been collected.

“We are always truly amazed at the generosity of the people in our community, especially as it relates to helping others,”said Jennifer Welch of Merchants Bank, one of this year’s co-chairs.

Last year, more than 231,233 pounds of food was collected, making the 27-year total 2,839,415 pounds of food. With totals to date for this year, the “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive is at 2,936,451 pounds of food collected.

“We are looking forward to the remainder of the drive,” Welch said. “We expect there will be great turnouts for the Holiday Train on Thursday and at the Santa House on Saturday and Sunday.”

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is scheduled to arrive at 4 p.m. at the Winona Amtrak Station. The Santa House is open at 25038 County Road 9 1-5 p.m. Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday. Suggested admission to the Santa House is $5 per person or nonperishable food items. Pictures with Santa will be available for $3 a photo.

Merchants will be collecting nonperishable food items at its locations as well as at schools and participating businesses around the area. A list of participating schools and businesses is at www.merchantsbank.com/10daysofgiving. Monetary donations can be made out to “10 Days of Giving” and can be mailed to, or dropped off at Merchants Bank, 102 E. 3rd Street, Winona, MN 55987. If you would like to make a donation online, you can go directly to the Winona Volunteer Services website: winonavs.org. Indicate ” 10 Days of Giving”after entering your name.