Foresight Bank to open Eyota branch as Bremer leaves town
Foresight plans to establish a small branch within Bennett's Eyota Market, then expand into a new, standalone branch in Eyota within the next few years.
EYOTA — As Eyota's Bremer Bank branch prepares to close, another financial institution is taking steps to establish a branch in town next year.
Foresight Bank has submitted its application to the Minnesota Department of Commerce to establish a branch in Eyota. Foresight President Cassie Harrington said the branch will be located within Bennett's Eyota Market at 501 Glen St. SW.
"We would hope to open the first half of 2023," Harrington said. "But it is dependent on how fast we can get our facility ... remodeled and so forth. So, it would be the first half of 2023, probably early summer, late spring maybe."
Foresight has tapped loan officer Amy Novotne to serve as the Eyota branch manager.
The Plainview-based bank, which also has a branch in Rochester, intends to build a new standalone branch in Eyota in the next few years.
"That would be full-service with drive-up, safe deposit boxes, the whole, full branch," Harrington said. "But that'll be a couple (of) years out."
Eric Bennett, owner of Bennett's Eyota Market and Bennett's Food Center in Plainview, said Foresight reached out to him to see if the bank could lease space within the market.
"We looked at it, and I think it's going to be a great partnership both ways," Bennett said.
Foresight's expansion beyond Rochester and Plainview comes as Eyota loses its only physical financial institution this month. In September, Bremer Bank announced its Eyota branch at 27 Second St. SW will permanently close at the end of the workday on Friday, Dec. 16.
Eyota Economic Development Authority Chair Dale Heintz said the EDA is happy Foresight has shown interest in Eyota.
"Most communities our size at least have a branch, and we felt we at least needed a branch so that people could have a full-service bank in this community rather than having to go to St. Charles or Rochester," Heintz said. "We want to maintain our infrastructure rather than see it go away."
Heintz said physical banks are especially important for organizations and businesses that regularly make cash deposits, such as churches and restaurants.
"Seniors and young people that maybe can't travel to another town — especially during COVID, we noticed that it was good to have the things that we had in town because people didn't want to travel a long distance," Heintz said.
As for Bennett's Eyota Market, Bennett said the couple of months without a bank in Eyota won't affect his businesses much since they can still bank through Foresight's Plainview branch.
"Our Plainview store, we do everything through Foresight Bank at this point," Bennett said. "And it also just made sense if we've got to drive somewhere to do the banking, we might as well do it in our own home base."
The Eyota expansion also furthers Foresight's goals, Harrington said.
"Eyota is an active small town, and the Dover-Eyota School District is excellent," Harrington said. "Having a location in Eyota will just fit nicely with our bank's philosophy of serving Southeast Minnesota. We're passionate about doing our part to keep Southern Minnesota a vibrant place to work and live."
With Bremer Bank departing, city leaders are also looking into transforming Bremer's building into a new city hall . The Eyota City Council is currently negotiating a property purchase agreement with Bremer. The council held a public hearing on the potential purchase on Dec. 7.