Bell Bank plans second location in Duluth

Just three years after moving into the Twin Ports market, Bell Bank has plans for a second location.The new branch will be constructed on the north side of West Arrowhead Road, a vacant site next to McCoy Construction and Forestry. Executives plan to build a 4,000-square-foot, freestanding building, which will house a full-service bank. It will feature a three-lane drive-through and a parking lot.According to Community Banking Director Tim McShane, “The new branch will house four full-time staff members. The hiring process will begin at the end of 2023.”
The building, designed by LHB, will have a modern design, clad in brick, metal paneling, and glazing. McShane explained. “As a community bank, we believe it is critical to support our local economy, therefore our general contractor is based in Duluth as are the majority of our subcontractors.” This new branch isn’t the first Bell Bank in the Duluth area. In 2020, Bell opened its flagship location in downtown Duluth at 201 E. Superior St. The new branch will serve the population over “The Hill” and in the surrounding areas of Duluth. Bell Bank first opened its doors in 1966 in a Fargo, N.D., shopping center. Now there are over 20 full-service locations in Minnesota, North Dakota and Arizona. They also have mortgage locations in 11 states, including Minnesota and Wisconsin. Bell is the largest family-and-employee-owned bank in the upper Midwest, and one of the largest in the nation. It has assets over $13 billion.Bell Bank has had the same mission statement since its beginning: “Happy employees, happy customers.” In 2022, Bell Bank was named one of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. Fortune magazine’s Best Companies list recognizes workplaces where “Employees trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do and enjoy the people they work with.”Michael Solberg, president of Bell Bank and CEO, stated in a release at the time, “What makes this recognition even sweeter is that it has as its base, surveys of our employees and what they say about working here.
 “We share this honor also with our customers,” he continued. “Our growth and success is all due to our wonderful employees, as well as our loyal customers and friends in the community.”At Bell, this mission is not just lip-service; those words are put into action, according to Solberg. “If we create a place where our team members can enjoy what they do and take pride in where they work, they’ll go the extra mile in taking care of each other and our customers.” One way to demonstrate this philosophy is Bell’s “Pay it Forward” program. Under this program, the company gives each full-time employee $1,000 and each part-time employee $500 each year to donate to a charitable organization or to community people in need. From purchasing school supplies and backpacks for elementary school children, to packing and presenting boxes of food to the food insecure, Bell’s employees can give the bank’s money to the causes closest to their heart.  To date, the company has donated over $26 million dollars to the communities surrounding where their branches are located.Another way Bell serves its communities is through the “Big Blue Bus,” formally known as the Financial Empowerment Center, which literally brings banking, mortgages and financial planning resources to those who have trouble getting to the branch, such as shut-ins, seniors, young people without transportation and people who might be intimidated to ask for help or advice. The bus is a friendly, community-minded way to reach out.The vacant site on the West Arrowhead Road property where Bell Bank, hoping to open mid-2024, is under construction will be a future home to other developments as well. A 7,000-square-foot retail building will fill the reminder of the property. It will house two tenants, one of which will be a restaurant with a drive-through.Bell’s construction area will be seeing other new development. Across the street on Arrowhead Road is a large, mixed-use site currently being developed by Lotus Realty Group. A Kwik Trip opened on the site last year, and Duluth Gospel Tabernacle plans to construct a new church in the next few years. One portion of the site below the new church (along Marble Street) will be a residential development called “Harbor Light.” It is planned to include nine, single-family homes and 16 townhome units.

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