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Published September 28, 2010, 10:02 AM

Alerus highlights ag products in new business segment

One of the Red River Valley’s best-known financial institutions wants to take its agricultural game a notch higher.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

One of the Red River Valley’s best-known financial institutions wants to take its agricultural game a notch higher.

Grand Forks, N.D.-based Alerus Financial has consolidated its agricultural products under the Alerus Agriculture brand name.

“We have current staffing in Grand Forks and Fargo (N.D.) In doing this, our entire ag staff will be working closer together,” says Terry Longtin, who leads Alerus Ag.

Alerus Ag, a business segment of Alerus Financial, will continue to offer rural appraisal, ag stock sales, farm management, crop insurance and ag loans.

The company says the new segment name reinforces its commitment to ag clients.

Alerus Ag currently has 18 employees. That doesn’t include several licensed real estate agents who are dual employees of Alerus and Botsford & Qualey Land Co., which is associated with Alerus.

Alerus Ag is in the process of hiring two ag relationship managers to work with clients in the northern Red River Valley. It also hopes to hire an ag relationship manager for the southern Red River Valley by the end of 2011.

The managers will serve as point people between clients and Alerus Ag product specialists.

“We have a lot of ag products we didn’t have a dozen years ago. We started getting into them into the late ’90s,” Longtin says.

For example, Alerus acquired the former Botsford & Rice Property Management Co. in 1998 and the former Braaten & Qualey Property Management in 1999.

“As the face of ag changes, farmers kept getting bigger, as do other businesses. So we’ve set up all these ag products as a sort of one-stop shop on the financial side for farmers and agribusiness,” Longtin says.

Alerus also works with businesses such as implement dealers and grain elevators, often providing operating lines of credit for the client.

Specialists at Alerus Financial can help agricultural clients with estate and transition planning, Longtin says.

“Those areas are really big in ag,” he says.

History of expansion

Alerus dates to 1879, when the Bank of Grand Forks was chartered. It has gone by several names through the years, taking the Alerus Financial banner in 2000.

The bank began expanding outside Grand Forks with the acquisition of Northwood (N.D.) State Bank in 1985 and West Fargo (N.D.) State Bank in 1987, later establishing branches in Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city.

During the past decade, Alerus has diversified geographically by expanding into the Phoenix and Minneapolis-St. Paul areas.

Alerus Ag doesn’t operate in those two metropolitan areas, but does provide its products east and west of the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.