A Dubuque-based bank soon will close a pair of small-town branches.
Dubuque Bank & Trust President and CEO Lynn “Tut” Fuller said the branches in Epworth and Holy Cross will close in the late spring.
“We are always trying to do the overall best thing in the long-term for our four stakeholders — our customers, our employees, our communities and, lastly, our shareholders,” he said. “In doing so, you are sometimes confronted with making difficult decisions.”
The two branches collectively employ five workers. Fuller said those employees have been provided the opportunity to apply for other positions at DB&T as well as its parent company, Heartland Financial USA.
The impending closures were prompted by rapidly changing consumer behavior in the banking industry.
“Mobile banking technology has dramatically changed the way people use our branches,” Fuller said. “When you take into account the functionality of mobile apps, as well as the fact that ATMs can take deposits, that takes care of most of the things that a branch does.”
In Epworth, Mayor Sandra Gassman expects that the branch closure will have a ripple effect on other businesses.
“When people came here to deposit checks, they would also go to other businesses here in town,” she said. “I think the other businesses have really benefited from having the branch here.”
Holy Cross Mayor Brian Maiers said he was not surprised to hear of the branch’s impending closure.
He noted that traffic to the branch has noticeably dwindled in recent years. About a year ago, the bank reduced the hours at the branch, Maiers recalled.
Even so, the closure is difficult to stomach in the small town. Maiers noted that another longtime business, meat processor Holy Cross Locker, closed its doors at the end of 2018.
“Any time you lose a business in a small town it is bad,” Maiers said. “To lose two in a short period of time, that really hurts. It’s a double whammy. We are going to have to be proactive about getting some new ones in here.”
Fuller said bank officials are evaluating multiple options for both branch facilities, although nothing has been finalized at this point.
Multiple private-sector entities have expressed interest in the Epworth property, Fuller said. Meanwhile, bank officials are exploring the possibility of donating the building in Holy Cross for a community use.
Dubuque Bank & Trust opened its first banking location in 1935.
Following the closure of the Epworth and Holy Cross locations, Dubuque Bank & Trust will have seven operating branches. The bank has 130 employees.
“These (branch closures) are difficult decisions that need to be made so that we can ensure that we remain a profitable and growing company,” Fuller said. “We have already been around in this community for 80 years. We are making sure we can remain a fixture for the next 80 years.”