1st International Bank to expand

A Minot bank held an outdoor luncheon at the construction site of their newest facility Thursday. Construction is under way at 2150-21st Ave. NW where 1st International hopes to have a new building in operation by next February.

A number of customers and employees attended Thursday’s barbeque to celebrate the new structure. Steve Stenehjem, Watford City, CEO of 1st International, was among those participating in the event.

“With added population in Minot and a bigger customer base, we need more room for serving them and more space for our employees,” said Stenehjem. “This is going to be a great spot for them to locate as well as serve our customers on the north side of Minot.”

1st International began the search for a North Hill location shortly after the flood of 2011. That flood isolated customers on the north side of Minot from the bank’s South Broadway location while a smaller branch bank located near Arrowhead Shopping Center was inundated by floodwaters.

“I think everyone knows what changes in Minot occurred after the flood,” said Blaine DesLauriers, Minot 1st International president. “This is another opportunity to serve an area of Minot that we’re not currently in. It’ll be a full-service facility with a mortgage operations center on the lower level.”

The new bank will feature multiple drive-though lanes for bank customers and easy access off 21st Avenue. The facility also is a reflection of the growing population and economy in western North Dakota.

“It’s really fun to see, after 25 years of recession, to have this oil industry come about and give all the opportunities for people with increased salaries and jobs and just allow for more people to find jobs here and help our state,” noted Stenehjem. “It’s just a wonderful thing.”

DesLauriers acknowledged that 1st International has experienced a number of booms and busts in western North Dakota in their 104 year history, but expressed the current trend fueled by the Bakken oil formation has triggered unprecedented growth.

“It’s fun, but not without challenges,” said Des Lauriers. “We struggled to find employees housing. From that perspective it has its challenges but, overall, its been pretty exciting.”