Add Minnesota Bank & Trust in Edina to the growing list of community banks bulking up in mortgage lending in hopes of capturing market share from larger banks.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported Thursday that the $81 million-asset bank has established a new mortgage lending division and tapped regional manager Brett Toyne run it. The bank, a unit of the $4.3 billion-asset Heartland Financial USA Inc., has also hired Mark Kurth, a former manager at Wells Fargo & Co., and Denny Bennett, formerly of MetLife Bank, to help build the division and intends to add as many as 20 lenders to the team, according to the news report.

Several other community banks, including HomeStreet Inc. in Seattle, Washington Trust Co., in Westerly, R.I., and Provident Financial Holdings Inc. in Riverside, Calif., have been building out their mortgage units by hiring teams of bankers from larger institutions that have been scaling back lending or, in MetLife's case, exiting the mortgage origination business entirely.

Earlier this week, HomeStreet said it had added 160 former MetLife staffers to to its mortgage lending team and last month Provident said it was opening three offices in northern California and has hired a team of 40 former MetLife employees to run the operations.

Aside from Bennett, Minnesota Bank & Trust has hired two other former MetLife lenders since December, according to the bank's Web site.

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