COVID-19: Letter from the Chairman & CEO

March 18, 2020

BlackRidgeBANK Valued Customers:

BlackRidgeBANK is a proud partner in all communities that we serve. We take the health and safety of our customers, employees, and communities seriously. We have an experienced, professional team in place to make sure we can take care of you our valued customer.

This is a new situation for all of us, and we understand it is unsettling. BlackRidgeBANK is your partner, and we encourage you to visit with us if you have questions or concerns over the next few weeks. We are resilient, and we will get through this challenging time together.

We are monitoring the latest developments and reports from the CDC and the Department of Health regarding the virus. Providing a clean and safe environment for our customers and employees is always a top priority for us. Consistent with guidance from the CDC, we have increased the disinfecting of all our locations, installed hand sanitizing stations for customers and employees and reinforced preventative measures.

This is a good time to use our mobile and online services, ATMs, and convenient drive-up locations. Please contact us at 701-551-1320 if you have questions or need assistance with any of these services.

We will continue our seamless customer service you are accustomed to and will update you as the world around us changes. BlackRidgeBANK is committed to you in the good times as well as the challenging times. We remain open for business, please check our website at for any adjustments that we may need to make.


Brenda K. Foster
Chairman & CEO

BlackRidgeBANK Promotes Hill

Haley Hill has been promoted to Controller of BlackRidgeBANK, as of December 23, 2019. Haley joined BlackRidgeBANK in 2014 as a Loan Documentation Specialist and was later promoted into her most recent position of Accountant in 2015. Haley graduated from Minnesota State University – Moorhead in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting & finance and is a native of Baudette, MN.

BlackRidgeBANK hires Brossart and Lerud, Promotes Rogelstad

Gerald Brossart was hired as a Senior Vice President & Business Banking Manager at BlackRidgeBANK in West Fargo on December 2nd. Gerry has over 30 years of banking experience in various capacities including being a Market President. Gerry is well connected in the community and is involved in many different organizations; he has been in banking in the Fargo market for 13 years.

Andy Lerud was hired as a Senior Credit Officer at BlackRidgeBANK in West Fargo on December 2nd. Andy is a CPA with 12 years of experience in the areas of credit analysis, commercial lending and public accounting. Andy previously worked as a Senior Business Analyst and prior to that he spent 7 years in Commercial Credit and Private Banking.

Caleb Rogelstad was promoted to Business Banking Loan Officer at BlackRidgeBANK in West Fargo on December 2nd. He joined BlackRidgeBANK in 2017 and most recently served as a Cash Management Officer. Caleb holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and a minor in Business Administration from North Dakota State University.

First Western Bank & Trust, through parent company Westbrand, Inc., announces acquisition of BlackRidgeBANK

First Western Bank & Trust’s holding company, Westbrand, Inc., and BlackRidge Financial, Inc., the holding company of BlackRidgeBANK, today announced they have entered into an agreement where Westbrand, Inc. will acquire BlackRidge Financial, Inc.

The transaction is pending regulatory approval and is expected to close sometime during the fourth quarter of 2019. Upon completion of the transaction, the operations of First Western Bank & Trust and BlackRidgeBANK shall initially remain independent, but expect to be merged under the First Western Bank & Trust name in the first quarter of 2020.

“First Western Bank & Trust is excited to announce this partnership of two great community banks, with a combined footprint extending from Minot to Minneapolis,” says First Western Bank & Trust President and CEO Brenda Foster. “BlackRidgeBANK is a very well-respected banking organization,” Foster says. “Our two teams have similar cultures, a focus on superior customer service and a deep commitment to our clients and communities.”

Combined, the banks will have assets of nearly $1.7 billion, with more than 300 employees at 15 different locations in 11 communities across North Dakota and Minnesota, including Minot, Bismarck, Fargo and West Fargo in North Dakota, as well as Alexandria, Carlos, Miltona, Baxter, Crosslake, Nisswa and Eden Prairie/Minneapolis, in Minnesota.

“By partnering with First Western Bank & Trust, we access the strength and leverage of a larger financial institution with broad and complementary activities. This positions us for an even more dynamic client-centric future,” says BlackRidgeBANK President and CEO Mark Anderson. “The inherent strengths in this combination will provide our clients access to a wider array of solutions, drawing on an expanded team of banking professionals, which will notably enhance the growth opportunities for members of our team while further enhancing our market capabilities.”

The financial institutions will provide a full range of financial solutions, such as business banking, consumer banking, ag banking, leasing, home loans, insurance and trust services.

Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A. acted as legal advisor and Oakridge Financial Services Group, Inc. acted as financial advisor to BlackRidge Financial, Inc. Gerrish Smith Tuck, PC acted as legal advisor to Westbrand, Inc.


About First Western Bank & Trust
First Western Bank & Trust has been a community bank since 1964. Founded in Minot, we have grown to include locations in Eden Prairie, MN in 2006 and Bismarck in 2017. We operate as a full-service financial center providing traditional banking products as well as trust services, all lines of insurance, leasing, and much more. Technology and innovation drive us to be industry leaders to provide premier products and services to our customers.

About BlackRidgeBANK
BlackRidgeBANK has ten locations in Minnesota and North Dakota, with total assets of nearly $500 million. The bank’s 125 team members share a strong commitment to providing outstanding banking solutions, one relationship at a time, backed by exceptional customer service. The organization was founded in 2004, when executives from BlackRidge Financial, a privately owned bank holding company, embarked on a growth strategy through acquisition of banks in the Baxter and Alexandria regions of Minn., and opening of new branches in the Fargo and Bismarck ND regions.

BlackRidgeBANK partners with Mastercard to Stand Up to Cancer

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, use your BlackRidgeBANK Mastercard and help support cancer research.

BlackRidgeBANK is proud to participate in Mastercard’s Stand Up to Cancer Dining Program. Each time you use your personal or business BlackRidgeBANK Debit Mastercard® and spend $10 or more at a participating U.S. restaurant between July 1 and Aug. 15, 2019, Mastercard nationally will make a donation to Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), up to a maximum of $4 million.

Over the past decade, Mastercard has donated more than $45 million to SU2C’s collaborative cancer research programs. Its support has led to five FDA approvals for new cancer therapies, including treatments for breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers and certain difficult-to-treat leukemias. 

About Stand Up to Cancer

Stand Up to Cancer raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. A division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, SU2C was established by a group of nine women in the entertainment and news community whose lives have been affected by cancer in profound ways. In fall 2007, they began working together to utilize these communities’ resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, increase awareness about cancer prevention and highlight progress made in the fight against the disease. Approximately 1,500 scientists representing about 180 institutions are currently involved in SU2C-funded research projects.


Don’t have a BlackRidgeBANK Mastercard?

Getting one is easy! Simply contact your local BlackRidgeBANK branch.


BlackRidgeBANK sponsors “Water Works,” a children’s book authored by a 10-year-old Sawyer Anderson, to help raise money for African water wells

When 10-year-old Sawyer Anderson learned that children the same age as her two-year-old sister, had died trying to access clean water in poverty-stricken south-central Africa, she was compelled to act quickly. What started as a cookie sale at her grandmother’s rummage sale grew into a sewing project to raise money for water wells in Africa. Although the two fundraisers, which began a little more than a year ago, exceeded $26,000, for Sawyer, they simply weren’t enough.

Today, she’s expanding her fundraising goals to raise additional money through a children’s book. Sawyer has illustrated and written Water Works. She created the book to illustrate the challenges African villagers face in procuring clean water and ultimately, raise more money for additional wells.

For each Water Works books sold, Wellspring for the World will donate $8.33 to World Vision to provide clean and safe water. The books sell for $9.99 each.

The catalyst for Water Works is a character inspired by real events: Brian, a boy Sawyer’s age living in the Mwamba Region of Zambia. His arm had to be amputated after he was bitten by a poisonous snake while fetching water for the family from the only viable source, a dirty, shallow well. Today, thanks, to the combined efforts of World Vision, Wellspring for the World and Hope Lutheran Church in Fargo, ND, along with many others in African villages, Brian and his family now have access to a well that provides clean, safe water to area villagers.

Before the book was created, Sawyer partnered with her grandma a little more than a year ago to raise money selling cookies at a garage sale. Selling cookies grew into a larger idea to sew chitenge bags. Chitenge, is an African wax fabric that is commonly used to make dresses, bags, and infant carriers. Sawyer sold the chitenge bags for $50 each. This is the cost to provide clean water for one person for a lifetime. The money Sawyer has raised from the sale of her bags, cookies and soon, books, equates to 10 wells and more than 3,000 lives.

Her motto: “Buy a bag, save a life, it’s an offer you can’t refuse” is truly living up to its purpose. Water Works is the next step in Sawyer’s vision to bring clean water to Africa. She hopes it inspires others to make a difference through volunteering or donating to this important work.

Water Works is now available. You can order online today. 

Free home-buyers seminar in Fargo, April 23

BlackRidgeMORTGAGE hosts a free seminar for home buyers April 23, 6:30 pm, at BlackRidgeBANK headquarters at 825 26th Ave. E, West Fargo. 

The details
Ready to take the leap to purchase your first home? Find out top tips to help you navigate every step of the home buying process.  Join us for a free informational seminar and hear from area pros on buying, financing, inspecting, building and protecting. Seating is limited, so click here to reserve your free tickets now!

Your presenters: 

  • Buying: Devon Hofer, RE/MAX Legacy
  • Financing: Brenda Holman and Mike Mihulka, BlackRidgeMORTGAGE
  • Inspecting: Cody Lewis, Pro-Tech Home Inspection
  • Building: Jessica Metcalf, Thomsen Homes
  • Protecting: Justin Staehr, BlackRidgeINSURANCE

Light supper provided.

Questions? Call 701-356-8300 or email

Travis Anderson named to Prairie Business magazine’s 2018 “40 Under 40” list

BlackRidgBANK Vice President and Controller Travis Anderson has been to Prairie Business magazine’s annual 40 under 40 list, featuring 40 of the top business professionals under the age of 40 in the northern Plains.

These 40 professionals come from a wide range of industries and have made significant impacts in their chosen professions, industries and
communities. They are entrepreneurs, industry experts, executives and nonprofit leaders; they are business owners, government officers, environmental advocates and regional trendsetters.Plus, they show unusual devotion to their communities and to volunteer service.

The selected 40 are featured in the December issue, which is available here. The feature begins on Page 24.  

“The region’s economy is strong, and that’s really giving young people an opportunity to shine,” said Tom Dennis, editor of Prairie Business.

“Not only are these high achievers standouts in their work, but also they show exceptional devotion to their families and communities,” says Tom. “The work-life balance they’ve achieved is impressive — and in my view, that makes their individual success stories all the more inspiring.”

John Jessen named EVP & Chief Retail Banking Officer

John Jessen has been named Executive Vice President & Chief Retail Banking Officer for BlackRidgeBANK. In this role, Jessen will be responsible for providing strategic leadership by working with the Board of Directors and other bank management to establish long-range goals, strategies and plans for the retail banking line of business. In addition, he will be charged with positioning the bank to deliver an unparalleled banking experience for all consumer and small business banking customers. With more than two decades of banking experience, Jessen joined BlackRidgeBANK in 2007, and most recently held the position of Director of Retail Banking. In addition to his new position, he will continue in his key roles of Market President for Bismarck and Senior Credit Committee Chairman for the bank. He also will also maintain responsibility for overseeing the compliance function of the organization.

BlackRidgeBANK and Doug Wentz recognized as Champions of Affordable Housing

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) recently recognized its outstanding partners as “Champions of Affordable Housing” at the Statewide Housing Conference. Among those recognized for originating loans on behalf of NDHFA were BlackRidgeBANK and Mortgage Loan Originator Doug Wentz, from the bank’s Bismarck Region.

“The Champions Awards recognize and celebrate the work of individuals, non‐profit organizations, public agencies, and private sector businesses who go above and beyond to provide affordable housing for North Dakotans.” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

Through NDHFA’s homeownership programs individuals and families, which are typically first‐time buyers, receive low‐cost financing, and down payment and closing-cost assistance.

“One of the mortgage department areas that we take great pride in is our ability to leverage the various State and Federal government programs for the benefit of our clients,” said Joel Staehling, President of BlackRidgeBANK and Director of Secondary Market Lending. “Making housing affordable by tapping into these various and often complex programs is something we can all be proud of as a team member of BlackRidgeBANK.”