PELICAN RAPIDS, Minn. -- Employees of Pelican Valley State Bank helped the $60 million-asset institution obtain an "outstanding" Community Reinvestment Act rating this year by contributing their own money to a loan program.

The bank maintains a community loan pool of $100,000 -- made up of donations from area companies and bank employees -- to help start up businesses in a local industrial park. Pelican Valley's employees contributed $23,000 of that amount through voluntary payroll withholding.

Employees get a tax break for contributing to the revolving pool. When a loan is repaid, the interest goes into the pool.

The economy of Pelican Rapids, a town of 2,000 people, now revolves around agriculture, summer tourism, and a turkey processing plant.

|Everybody's Job'

In addition to the loan pool, president David Aaberg says, the bank makes an effort to let different pockets of the community know about its services. For example, he had Pelican Valley's pamphlets on opening new accounts and applying for a loans translated into Spanish and distributed at the turkey processing plant, which employs a large number of Hispanics.

Mr. Aaberg says he has a strong philosophy that involvement by the whole staff is vital for success. Compliance responsibilities are written into the job descriptions of each of his 33 employees.

"We say compliance is everybody's job," he says.

During the past few years, the bank has also adopted a compliance program -- designed by the American Bankers Association -- that focuses on 14 guidelines.

Mr. Aaberg says that five or six years ago the Minnesota Bankers Association helped his bank understand that CRA compliance is a group task. He also believes that compliance problems aren't something you can fix after the fact.

"The only thing now is to keep it up," says Mr. Aaberg.

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