In the past few weeks northeastern Minnesota has received several announcements about layoffs among employees of three taconite plants on the Iron Range: Mesabi Nugget, Magnetation, US Steel-Keetac and US Steel-Minntac. Roughly 1,200 people will be affected directly by these layoffs which will begin as mid-May, and no one has yet calculated the indirect impact on jobs among companies that supply the taconite industry across the region.
Grand Rapids State Bank has completed an initial review of loan files to determine how many customers are employed directly by one of the mining companies that have announced their layoff plans. In addition, the bank’s business bankers have been in contact with companies that provide services or products to the taconite mining industry.
“There is a lingering feeling of watchfulness with a little touch of anxiety,” said Jeff Lee, senior vice president-lending. “I’ve had the privilege of working in banks in Hibbing, Virginia and now Grand Rapids. On one hand there is a sense that this is the Iron Range and we’ve weathered these kinds of economic storms before. On the other hand, it’s happening now and the duration of these outages is unknown at this time. If it’s your job and your family’s income affected by these announcements, the anxiety levels are obviously higher.”
Grand Rapids State Bank has demonstrated for the past 100 years that it is nimble and capable enough to respond to economic developments that affect its customers’ wellbeing. This latest dose of sobering economic news is no exception.
“We will stand behind our customers and work with them, if needed, to customize loan terms so they can weather this storm,” said Jeff. “Whether it’s a business loan or a home mortgage for an employee, we’ll help them find a way to address their problem.
“We think this type of service is why our customers chose a community bank like us. We won’t let them down.”