When First Federal Savings & Loan of Fort Dodge was created in 1954, its mission was to serve the Fort Dodge community by providing home loans to families pursuing home ownership. Since the modest beginnings at the corner of 11th Street and Central Avenue, First Federal Savings & Loan evolved into a modern financial services organization while staying close to its home-lending roots. The final day as First Federal Savings Bank of Iowa was this past Friday with the closing of the merger with Great Western Bank.
First Federal played an important role in fulfilling its mission. For more than 20 consecutive years its regulator rated the bank as "outstanding" in meeting the credit needs of the communities it served - the highest rating that can be awarded. As the bank grew, it evolved with the changing market and changing community. First Federal expanded its products - but did not ever lose sight of its mission and its responsibilities to the communities it served.
Historically, First Federal was one of the few publicly traded companies headquartered in Fort Dodge. Following its IPO in the mid-90s, many local residents took advantage of the public offering and became shareholders of First Federal.
As a community leader, First Federal was a key corporate citizen that promoted and supported the many civic, school and organizational activities in the Fort Dodge community. Recent activities include its support of the Fort Dodge Soccer Association and obtaining a critical grant for the Beacon of Hope Shelter in addition to its long history of supporting United Way, YMCA and YWCA and many others. Most importantly, the employees of First Federal supported these efforts with the understanding their own efforts were contributing to the overall health of the community.
Tomorrow morning new signs that say Great Western Bank will be revealed on each First Federal office. We believe that with change comes opportunity. Customers and citizens alike are interested in learning about Great Western Bank - not only for their financial products, but whether they share the same values, understand the community, and participate to the same degree that First Federal provided. We challenge Great Western Bank to take the opportunity to demonstrate it will be every bit the community leader that First Federal has been for nearly 60 years.
Thank you, First Federal for your contributions to our community.
C. Thomas Chalstrom was the president and chief operating officer of First Federal Savings Bank of Iowa.