Sioux City-based Liberty National Bank acquired the Northwest Bank location at 1807 Highway 71 North near Okoboji Summer Theatre in Okoboji. That bank location had been closed since Aug. 31.
The building is less than 10 years old, but Northwest Bank had excess locations after acquiring four Liberty Bank buildings in the Iowa Great Lakes.
Liberty National Bank President and CEO Michael Patrick said Liberty National Bank had been trying to establish a presence in the Iowa Great Lakes for several years.
"We're very happy to finally be in Okoboji," he said. "We're a bank that started in 2003 with 125 local investors in Sioux City. In 2008, we bought Valley Bank in Sioux Falls, with branches in Elk Point, Jefferson and North Sioux City as well. We doubled the size of the bank -- at that time we became a $150 million bank. We've grown the bank since then to be a $265 million in eight locations. Okoboji will be our ninth location. It just adds a great demographic to our company. We're sure that it will increase the franchise value for our company."
Liberty National Bank employees greeted their first customers on Monday. Patrick said he hopes they understand the difference between the recently purchased Liberty Bank franchise and his Liberty National Bank charter.
"It's a totally different franchise," he explained. "We're Liberty National Bank. The other Liberty Bank was based out of Des Moines. It was not a national bank charter ... so we have a different set of regulators than the other Liberty Bank here did. There's no connection whatsoever."
Liberty National Bank has a concentration of customers and shareholders along the Interstate 29 corridor between Sioux City and Sioux Falls. "Many have connections in the Okoboji area and some own real estate in the area, so this will be a nice opportunity to provide them some convenience," Patrick says.
Patrick and Market President Tim Chapman said they are still in the process of hiring staff at the Okoboji location.
"We anticipate those positions will be filled real soon," Chapman said. "It's just a matter of making sure we're hiring the best-qualified people that we can."
Chapman is a Spirit Lake graduate who said he hopes to spend the rest of his life in the Iowa Great Lakes. He also knows that many of Liberty National Bank's Sioux Falls and Sioux City customers have ties to the region.
"It's not as if Liberty National Bank is coming into Okoboji, Spirit Lake, Milford and Arnolds Park from someplace like Phoenix, Arizona, where we'd be coming in cold turkey," Chapman said. "We're coming here with an established customer base already."
The Okoboji location will grow through the traditional approach as a community bank as well, according to Chapman.
Bank employees plan to be active volunteers in the community. As the bank grows financially, its donations to the community are expected to grow as well.
"The way you go about that is by developing one relationship at a time," Chapman said. "We're in the money business, but, more importantly, we're in the people business."