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Community banks, rural businesses have beneficial collaboration
Green Bay Press Gazette
In this guest column Carl Laveck, executive vice president and chief credit officer at the Denmark State Bank, discusses the partnership between community banks and small business in Wisconsin, particularly manufacturers. Laveck writes, "It's deeply gratifying to see community banks and rural businesses working hand in hand to create jobs and improve local economies. ... Community banks, like small, local businesses, are the lifeblood of many communities. Community banks are the primary source of lending for small businesses and farms. Even though they compose just 21 percent of the banking industry by assets, community banks with less than $10 billion in assets made 58 percent of outstanding bank loans to small businesses." Green Bay Press Gazette

Bank deal dollars not enough
The Oshkosh Northwestern
Wisconsin will see $140 million out of a $25 billion settlement over mortgage foreclosure abuses, but those who deal with foreclosures in Winnebago doubt it will make a significant dent in the hundreds of foreclosure actions that have been filed in the county each year since 2008. Real estate professionals, community developers and those involved in the foreclosure process themselves say there are few signs the rate of foreclosure filings will slow down, and help from the settlement will be a case of too little and too late for many struggling property owners. Efforts should focus on building homeowners' confidence and preserving the stability of neighborhoods, Neighborhood Housing Services of Southeast Wisconsin Executive Director Domenick Martinelli said, adding that if a homeowner is underwater on his or her mortgage, a few thousand dollars from a settlement won't help. The Oshkosh Northwestern

Wipfli calls off merger with Eide Bailly
Milwaukee Business Journal
Wauwatosa-based public accounting firm Wipfli and Eide Bailly of Fargo, N.D., said they have called off their plan to merge and open a corporate headquarters in Minneapolis. On Friday the firms said they decided not to proceed with the proposed merger, which they had announced Jan. 6, and will continue to operate as separate firms. Eide Bailly managing partner and CEO Jerry Topp and Wipfli managing partner and CEO Rick Dreher described the parting as amicable and due to their inability to "come to an agreement on key terms." With revenue of $314 million, the proposed EB Wipfli would have been at least the 15th-largest accounting firm in the United States. Milwaukee Business Journal

Canadian banks play "O Canada" card to grow abroad
Embarking on an aggressive expansion, Canada's largest bank wanted to emphasize its roots in a country whose banking sector wins plaudits as the soundest in the world. With Europe's debt crisis dominating the headlines, it was a message designed to resonate with prospective customers. Royal's ad strategy is just one example of a shift in tactics by Canadian banks, which were once seen as a backwater bastion of stodginess. Bank of Montreal, the country's fourth-largest bank, has rebranded its U.S. Harris Bank arm as BMO Harris Bank, adding a Canadian link to what is now one of the biggest personal and commercial banks in the U.S. Midwest. BMO, based in Toronto, Canada's financial centre, made the move when it added Wisconsin bank Marshall & Isley to its existing Harris Bank network last year. While the banks do their own in-house research into the strength of their branding, prominent surveys bear out the strength of "Brand Canada," as some call it. Reuters

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