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Letter: Editorial failed to capture scope of Bank of North Dakota's efforts

Every day at Bank of North Dakota (BND), we ask ourselves, "How can we make North Dakota better?" Therefore, it was with great disappointment to read The Forum editorial of June 11, 2017, based on a six-minute 1 Million Cups presentation to explain BND's entrepreneur programs.

The editorial failed to capture the broad scope of initiatives provided by BND for the state's residents who wish to pursue business development opportunities. In fact, we have 20 loan programs designated for starting and growing the agriculture, business and industry sectors.

In 2016, BND and state agency partners led a series of 40 meetings across the state with business leaders, entrepreneurs, elected officials and the finance community to identify funding gaps for business development. Their input and guidance led to the May 1, 2017, announcement of changes to the business funding strategy of the BND New Venture Capital Fund; a loan program to assist fast growing companies and updates to the Beginning Entrepreneur, PACE and Flex PACE programs.

The $1.5 million identified for pre-revenue seed funding in The Forum editorial is intended to stimulate other private and public-sector investment by offering a side-by-side investment to communities and venture capital funds that support local start-ups in North Dakota. It also offers support to entrepreneurs completing the Department of Commerce Innovate ND program.

Contrary to The Forum editorial, while vetted, these companies are still in the development phase, not generating revenue which creates a higher investment risk. Thus, BND is only allocating 10 percent of its Venture Capital Fund to this category of companies.

In addition to start-up investment, BND increased the maximum net worth and loan limit to $500,000 for Beginning Entrepreneur Guarantee Loans and created the Accelerated Growth Loan program to assist more advanced start-ups entering a period of dynamic growth. BND also updated the parameters and buy-down limits for the PACE and Flex PACE program to allow communities more flexibility.

North Dakota faces a new day of economic opportunity, one in which we choose to diversify rather than rely on the roller coaster of agriculture and oil prices. The mission of BND is to be an agile partner creating financial solutions for current and emerging economic needs. We are North Dakota's unique competitive advantage for business financing.

I encourage anyone with questions about our programs to view our website at bnd.nd.gov. If you are a business owner or are interested in starting a business, visit with your local financial institution to access our business lending programs. As it has done for the past 98 years, BND will uphold its mission to promote agriculture, commerce and industry through sound management and partnerships in our state.

Hardmeyer is president and CEO of the Bank of North Dakota.

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