Bremer has new Twin Cities chief

Jeanne Crain moves from the larger BMO Harris Bank.

Veteran banker Jeanne Crain has jumped to Bremer Bank to become president and CEO responsible for the Twin Cities banking group.

Crain, 52, comes from the much larger BMO Harris Bank, where she has been president of the Chicago-based lender's Minnesota region. She said the timing was perfect for her, and called Bremer "a true community bank."

St. Paul-based Bremer, one of the state's largest banks, is owned by the Otto Bremer Foundation and has assets of $8.1 billion. Patrick Donovan remains chairman and CEO of the bank's holding company.

Crain joins Bremer at a time of extreme competition among local community banks struggling with low interest rates and weak loan demand. The lender weathered the financial crisis well and has been in growth mode at a time when many banks are treading water.

"Everybody is trying to rebuild in some respects," Crain said. "The fascinating thing about Bremer is it has significant capital."

Bremer opened branches in Mankato and in Bismarck, N.D., late last year and has a branch under construction in Owatonna. It has been scoping out potential new locations in Wisconsin and southern Minnesota, bank spokeswoman Teresa Morrow said.

BMO Harris, with $94.6 billion in assets, entered Minnesota last year with its purchase of Milwaukee-based Marshall & Ilsley Corp., whose M&I Bank had a major presence in the state. It hasn't named anyone to fill Crain's spot, a BMO Harris spokeswoman said.

Area banks have been taking advantage of BMO's purchase of M&I, and its transition, poaching some business and scooping up talent, local bankers say. Associated Banc-Corp, for instance, said in February that it has hired more than 100 M&I bankers over the past year or so.

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

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