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ABA Banking Journal Podcast

May 8, 2019

Christie Obenauer’s family-owned bank had a problem. Based in a rural county in western North Dakota, her community had been dealing with the prospect of population decline, but then the North Dakota energy boom brought an influx of newcomers. “It’s a wonderful problem to have.”

While Obenauer’s bank — Union State Bank in Hazen, N.D. — isn’t in the oil patch directly, it serves as a bedroom community for many who commute into the oil areas. It’s also home to large coal-mining operations. In the face of the housing crunch, her bank got involved in financing homes across the western part of the state. And with a need for housing that could be deployed quickly — “We had people thinking they could live in a camper in January, which — no. You can’t do it,” she chuckles — she also worked with the Bank of North Dakota and a state agency to develop a secondary market for manufactured homes.

On the ABA Banking Journal Podcast, Obenauer — a fourth-generation CEO — also talks about how the Bank of North Dakota — the only state-owned bank in the country — has worked with Union State Bank to expand its lending capability and bring a new $30 million critical access hospital, large day care facility and other needed projects to her hometown.