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RiverWood Bank transitions to ESOP

BEMIDJI -- Nearly 100 employees working at RiverWood Bank have a new stake in their company.

In the past several months, the company serving nine cities in north central Minnesota has launched an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP. In a press release, RiverWood Bank co-founder and CEO Paul Means called employees at the company a "No. 1 asset."

"Becoming an ESOP rewards the many long-time employees for their dedication and expertise to our customers, as well as provides an advantage going forward to recruit and retain the very best to join our team," Means said.

"As a management group, we had been thinking about it for many years," Regional President Barb Smith told the Pioneer. "The driving force for making the decision was our long term employees for their dedication and providing an advantage for us from a recruiting perspective. We really think it will make a difference."

In addition to Bemidji, RiverWood Bank has locations in Bagley, Baudette, Baxter, Benson, Big Lake, Crosslake, Monticello and Morris.

Kurt Knott, the Bemidji branch president, called the ESOP strategy an "opportunity for employee-owners to be rewarded for hard work and sound business decisions," in the release.