BAXTER - The Whiting family announced Thursday it entered into an agreement for the sale of Lakewood Bank, based in Baxter, to BlackRidge Financial Inc.
It is expected that the Lakewood Bank will retain its name, its staff and its branch office locations. The transaction will be completed sometime around March.
In June, the Whiting family announced it was selling Lakewood Banks after a 127-year family history in banking. Brothers Jim and Craig Whiting, Gull Lake area residents, made the announcement.
BlackRidge Financial Inc., with a home office in Fargo, N.D., was organized in 2004 by five former executives of Community First Bancshares. The company's objective is to build a core franchise of community banks in the upper Midwest in communities with diversified economies.
"We are very excited with the opportunity to work with the employees and clients of Lakewood Bank to further enhance the relationships which have been the foundation of Lakewood's success in the Brainerd lakes area," said Mark A. Anderson, president and chief executive officer of BlackRidge Financial, in a news release.
"We look forward to handing the ownership of Lakewood Bank over to such a fine group of people," said Jim Whiting in a news release. "Lakewood has prided itself on providing our customers the type of banking that is not offered by the large corporate banks. We care about our customers and we care about our staff. The BlackRidge folks embrace these same values."
The Whitings formed Lakewood Bank in 1998 by merging Nisswa State Bank and Brainerd National Bank. There are bank offices in Brainerd/Baxter, Nisswa and Crosslake. Jim Whiting is president of Lakewood Banks. Both Jim and Craig Whiting operated the bank holding company, Valley Bancshares Inc., from Nisswa.
At the time of the June sales announcement, Jim Whiting gave his family's banking legacy a time-line perspective. He said the Battle of Little Bighorn occurred in 1876 and the following year two Whiting family members set up a hardware store in Mapleton, Iowa. A steel safe, a rough counter, a couple of chairs and a desk in the back of the store became the Mapleton Bank.
The bank was formally organized in 1878. The bank grew to a brick building and formal registration in Iowa in 1914.
The Minnesota connection came in the 1950s when the family's children rode the train to the summer camps of Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert. Jim's and Craig's father, James, was one of the residents who bought stock as the Nisswa community worked to raise money to start its own bank in the 1970s. The family was involved in management of the Nisswa State Bank. In 1997, the family purchased Brainerd National Bank. Lakewood Bank was formed two years later.
Lakewood Bank has offices in the Westgate Mall, Schaefer's Market, downtown Nisswa and in Crosslake.
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