- Sallie Traxler
Transforming Main Street, One Business at a Time
In rural northeast North Dakota about 115 miles from Grand Forks you’ll find the picturesque town of Langdon, population approximately 1,800. Named the City of the Year by the North Dakota League of Cities for being a welcoming, strong and resilient community, and now we know why.
According to the city’s website, the community has an appreciation for great living with an emphasis on family and friends.
So how does a small rural town put all the pieces together to support a vibrant downtown? We talked with Todd Borchardt, President and Chief Ag Credit Officer, Choice Bank of Langdon to find out some of the ingredients in their secret sauce.
First of all, Borchardt knows his community and the needs of the small businesses he serves. Choice Bank partnered with Red River Corridor Fund (RRCF), to increase small business borrower’s lending capacity. "This program works well. It enables a credit worthy small business owner to meet the banks credit metrics, and to keep more cash on hand to run the business and/or finance a larger project", said Borchardt.
"As I look up and down main street, I see all the small businesses we have supported with assistance from the RRCF", said Borchardt. When Jesse and Christa Johnson bought a local sports bar, they dreamed of creating a place where families could gather. To do that, they needed to expand the kitchen and add a dining room as well as purchase new equipment. In a town where the only other option was a seasonal Dairy Queen, transitioning a bar into a family dining establishment was not only a good idea, but one that the community really needed. Borchardt said, "I am really proud to have been able to provide a financing package for Sporty’s Bar and Grill through our partnership with the RRCF Growth Capital Program. And now our families have a wonderful place to sit down for supper."
The Bread Pan Bakery has long been known for the amazing doughnuts and baked goods they create in a historic building on main street. "It’s a special place that was owned and operated by the same family for a long time. When the business came up for sale, the new owners, Bill and Marie Mack, knew that they would need to honor the past while planning for the future", said Borchardt.
Choice Bank in partnership with the RRCF were able to support the purchase of the real-estate and equipment. The business continues to grow and has expanded their menu to include daily lunch specials.
Tatiana Davis, moved to Langdon and was in the process of beginning a job search when she happened to see a for sale sign in the town’s only floral shop. When starting out, that first business loan can be hard to obtain if there is not enough collateral to secure the loan. Never one to shy away from a challenge, she began working with Choice Bank, who partnered with the RRCF to make her dream of small business ownership a reality. She is now the owner/operator of Langdon Floral.
The RRCF, initially funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury, is a coalition of 36 municipalities who joined together to bring capital resources to their communities. RRCF partners with banks to provide additional collateral and help small businesses finance projects. The original allocation of $3.4 million, has leveraged $10 million in bank financing. Projects have included loans to retail, service, manufacturing, processing and technology small businesses.