As the President and CEO of the Bank of North Dakota, Eric Hardmeyer is passionate about making a positive impact on the citizens and economy of North Dakota. As a state-established institution in 1919, The Bank of North Dakota remains the only state-operated bank in the United States. “The Bank of North Dakota is a unique organization developed exclusively to help make North Dakota better…and the bank is blessed with a talented team to deliver on that mission,” explained Hardmeyer.

Advocate for Entrepreneurs

From the inception in the early 1900s, the bank has provided services ranging from agriculture, education, and business. Eric Hardmeyer shared that “The goal of the bank remains the same…. to use the money wisely and spur the growth of the economy of North Dakota.” Agriculture lending has always been a mainstay for the bank, but recently there has been a strong emphasis towards assisting start-ups with more effective financial programs.

Over the last year, the Bank of North Dakota team has visited with entrepreneurs, small businesses, and community

Eric Hardmeyer, President and CEO

leaders to learn how to better resource start-up endeavors in North Dakota. “We took a look at the business landscape of North Dakota. We really poured a lot of time and energy into how to make North Dakota a better place to do business,” explained Hardmeyer. The result of this investigation into the business and the start-up ecosystem resulted in a revamped approach to loan programs through the bank.

“We concluded that we had enormous flexibility as the only state-owned bank…. which allows us to solve big issues facing entrepreneurs in our state, namely seed money,” shared Hardmeyer. The Bank of North Dakota adjusted their Beginning Entrepreneur Guarantee program by increasing the loan amount and maximum loan amount to $500,000.  Then the bank revisited their existing loan programs and made adjustments so that the loans could be utilized in new ways to assist fast growing companies. As a state-operated bank, the Bank of North Dakota can also provide more flexibility with entrepreneurs compared to that of private banks and financial institutions.

Along with adjusting the existing loan programs, the bank connects entrepreneurs to seed money through the New Venture Capital Fund, which is made possible by a partnership with the North Dakota Department of Commerce. Eric Hardmeyer shared that “entrepreneurs were unable to make the leap to the next step because capital resources were just outside of their grasp…so we sought ways to solve that problem.” With this increase in capital funds and change in loan programs, the Bank of North Dakota continues to provide the start-up ecosystem with a unique advantage compared to other states around the country.

Learn more from Eric Hardmeyer and the Bank of North Dakota as he speaks at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 at 9:15 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park.

Brent McNeal