Two Minnesota community banks to merge

Minnesota’s First Independent Bank and United Southwest Bank announced Sept. 14 that they have signed an agreement to merge.

Russell-based First Independent Bank has seven southwest Minnesota branches, in Beardsley, Balaton, Marshall, Ruthton, Lucan, Hanley Falls and Wood Lake. Founded in 1903, the bank currently has $377 million in assets.

Founded in 1916 as Empire State Bank, United Southwest Bank adopted its current name in 1997 when it merged with Vesta State Bank. Besides its Cottonwood headquarters,  United Southwest has four branches in Marshall, Vesta and Hanley Falls, Minn. As of Aug. 31, the bank had $58 million in assets. 

Completion of the transaction is expected to take place by the end of this year. First Independent Bank’s Hanley Falls branch is expected to close and consolidate into United Southwest’s location in the same town. In Marshall, United Southwest Bank’s branch will close and consolidate into First Independent Bank’s location. The combined bank will adopt the First Independent Bank name. All employees are expected to remain on-board. 

 “I am extremely excited to merge with First Independent Bank,” said United Southwest Bank President Greg Golberg. “They are committed to serving our small communities and will offer our customers additional products, technologies and services we don’t currently offer. Our customers will still be able to see a familiar face with First Independent Bank’s commitment to retain our valued employees.”  

First Independent Bank President Bruce Pogatchnik said the merger “offers us the opportunity to grow our bank within its existing marketplace.”