Houston residents bemoan bank withdrawal, as only bank in town to close in April

HOUSTON, Minn. (WKBT) —Houston residents are lamenting the imminent closure of Bremer Bank, the only bank in the small town.

The bank, which will close on April 15, serves nearly 1,000 people and businesses in the small town.

“It’s sort of a feeling of ‘Okay, is this a little piece of us now dying?'” said Denise Rostad.

Businesses are left wondering what the future holds.

“It’s gonna hurt the Houston community and surrounding area,” said Eric Hill, general manager of Root River Co-op.

The co-op, which is across the street from the bank, has customers stop by after their bank trips. Hill is worried that business will decrease when the bank closes.

“We run a pretty thin margin here because we are a small community co-op, so any drop in sales has a direct effect on us,” Hill said.

Other local businesses rely on the bank nearly every day.

“We need cash every day to do business,” said Karla Bloem, executive director of the International Owl Center. “We need to do deposits every day.”

For some people, Bremer Bank was a longstanding part of Houston history. Mayor David Olson is among many who have used the bank for their entire lives.

“Fifty years, this has been my bank,” Hill said. “And now it’s gone.”

In a statement to News 8 Now, Bremer says it is closing the Houston location and shifting to online banking.

Mayor Olson said many people in his city, which has a large elderly population, are not able to do online banking.

“When it comes to internet banking and stuff like that, they don’t wanna do that because they can’t,” Olson said. “Most of them can’t.”

Some people and businesses have already found a new bank. Bloem says she is already looking to change her personal accounts.

“Why would we stay with Bremer if we have to drive to La Crosse or Winona to do our banking?” Bloem said. “I would rather support and have my money in a bank that supports our community.”

A community needs more support, Olson said.

“Just seems like one thing after the other can’t make it,” Olson said.

“Our hope going forward is always survival,” Hill said.

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