State-owned bank in North Dakota an inspiration

State-owned bank in North Dakota an inspiration

WASHINGTON — As Congress returned to writing a bill overhauling regulation of the banking industry, some states are pondering homegrown solutions to the credit crisis. And for inspiration, they’re looking to a place that is far away from Wall Street in more ways than one: North Dakota.

North Dakota operates the country’s only state-run bank. The Bank of North Dakota makes loans to businesses and to other banks, and has come to be seen both in and out of the state as a beacon of economic stability and financial independence. Then there’s the revenue: The bank has turned over $350 million in profits to North Dakota’s general fund since 1997.

Bills intended to create similar state-run banks or study the idea are being discussed in Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington. Five more states have contacted the Bismarck-based bank in hopes of learning more about how the bank’s 168 employees straddle the line between public benefit and private enterprise.

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