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Craig McEwen and Tracy Frank, Published June 06 2009

Trade Talk: Alerus Financial buys bank in Arizona

North Dakota-based Alerus Financial has purchased an existing bank branch from Meridian Bank in Peoria, Ariz.

The new branch, named Alerus Bank and Trust, will operate as a community bank.

Alerus also operates a commercial bank from a temporary location in Phoenix.

“This acquisition will be our foot in Arizona’s door and will play a key role in helping us expand throughout the state over the next several years,” said Randy Newman, Alerus Financial president and CEO.

Before investing in the new branch, Arizona was Alerus Financial’s third-largest market after North Dakota’s Red River Valley and Minneapolis.

Otter Tail Power building wind farm

Otter Tail Power Co. of Fergus Falls, Minn., has started construction on a

49.5-megawatt wind farm near Lake Ashtabula in North Dakota.

Otter Tail Power expects

the project to be operational later this year. It is expected to be part of the larger

169.5-megawatt Luverne Wind Farm being built by NextEra Energy Resources LLC.

Otter Tail purchased the site for the wind farm from

M-Power LLC of Finley, N.D., in 2008.

Otter Tail expects to invest about $110 million in the project, which includes the cost of wind generation turbines and equipment, the construction site and transmission facilities.

With the project, Otter Tail Power will have about 180 megawatts in wind energy generation resources.

Schafer addresses global ag summit

Ed Schafer, former U.S. secretary of agriculture and North Dakota governor, recently addressed about 250 attendees from 37 countries at the Rice Americas Conference in Miami.

Schafer called on governments to recognize that rice is more than grain.

“We saw last year during the global food crisis that rice remains a driving factor for nutrition, trade policy and government stability,” Schafer said. “By gathering agricultural and political leaders from all over the world, the Rice Americas Conference was a huge step toward better policy and practices.”

The conference was hosted by Sykeston, N.D., native and North Dakota State University alumnus Jeremy Zwinger.

Readers can reach Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502 and business reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526