NESTLED at the edge of Bismarck, North Dakota, where the city meets the Missouri River, is an inconspicuous brick building that houses a unique institution: The Bank of North Dakota, the only state-owned and state-run bank in the U.S.
Born of necessity, the banking model pioneered by North Dakota has since proved profitable – to the tune of 14 consecutive years of record-breaking profits. A handful of states have been interested in replicating the Bank of North Dakota model, most recently states with a growing and unbanked marijuana industry.
Fueled by a radical political party driven by poor farmers determined to wrestle control over their livelihoods from the big, out-of-state banks that held their loans, the state’s Nonpartisan League(NPL) coalesced in 1915 and, in 1918, the NPL took control of the North Dakota governor’s office and state Legislature. The following year, the Bank of North Dakota was established through state legislation and on July 28, 1919, the bank opened its doors with $2 million in capital.