Midwest Bank

Doug Johnson, Midwest Bank president and CEO, speaks during a groundbreaking event in Norfolk on Wednesday afternoon.

Norfolk soon will be the home for the headquarters of Midwest Bank.

The financial institution whose Northeast Nebraska roots date back nearly 70 years unveiled plans for its new three-story, 45,000-square-foot facility that will serve as its base of operations during a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon.

Doug Johnson, president and CEO of Midwest Bank said the unveiling was an exciting day for the bank, the Norfolk community and all of the other communities served by Midwest Bank.

“This venture has been under the planning for the better part of five years, and it’s grown from out of the need for additional space and the need to be able to have the space and the latest technology to serve all of the clients we have across our 10 communities in eastern Nebraska and now two locations in Colorado.”

The new facility will be located on a 12-acre parcel of land owned by Midwest Bank at the intersection of 25th Street and the U.S. Highway 275 Bypass.

Johnson said the bank would not utilize the entire 12 acres of land, so the long-term plan is to develop the area into a business plaza.

“There’s room for professional buildings to go west of our building, and that’s what we’re looking at for the big, master plan,” Johnson said. “There will be opportunities for businesses to buy lots out there and develop around us.”

The decision to build the new headquarters was made to fulfill the bank’s growing need for centralization of its administrative staff and specialists. All of its satellite locations — including 10 in Nebraska and two Redstone Banks in Colorado — will remain in operation.

“We’ve got to have a facility that can base all of our support and employees,” Johnson said. “We understand that it’s a good-sized building, but it’s necessary to provide the support we need going into the future.”

Midwest Bank operations will occupy all three floors of the new facility. The main floor will feature a Norfolk bank location with a full-service drive-up convenience. The upper floors will house administrative and corporate support, data specialists and loan processing.  

The new facility also will bring more job opportunities to Norfolk. Johnson said about 140 people would work at the Midwest Bank headquarters. Many will be employed in new positions that will become available as the bank’s capacity increases and some will be existing employees who will be drawn in from the bank’s other locations.

“We have specialists and department heads that are scattered around all of our different locations. To the extent that it’s feasible for our employees, they will move into the new building in Norfolk,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the bank isn’t requiring its employees in those positions to move from their current office if it creates an undue burden upon them, but as employment transitions occur through retirement or new hires, those positions will be based at the Norfolk headquarters.

Beckenhauer Construction of Norfolk has been tapped as the contractor to erect the new building. It will be the fifth Midwest Bank location built by Beckenhauer Construction.  Johnson said the bank intends to utilize as many local subcontractors as possible, too.

Johnson said the hope is to have the new Midwest Bank headquarters complete in about 18 months, and he’s thankful to the bank’s customers who have made the new building a necessity.

“This is as much their building as it is ours,” he said of the bank’s customers. “We wouldn’t need it and wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t have great relationships and great, great clients across Nebraska and part of Colorado.”

In other news

Rats can drive cars. Not your car or my car. (Their legs really wouldn’t reach the pedals, after all.) Rather, researchers have created tiny cars just for their lab rats and certain experiments and have taught the little critters how to drive.

This year’s Madison County Fair continued Wednesday with the 4-H rabbit show in the morning and poultry show in the afternoon, and an important takeaway from Wednesday’s shows was the educational experience.