The Bank of North Dakota (BND) is a public bank with a long history of profitability. Since its founding in 1919, it has consistently achieved high returns on investment, including a 17% return during the COVID-19 pandemic. The BND’s success is due in part to its conservative approach to lending and investing, which has allowed it to weather economic downturns like the Great Depression and the Great Recession. In addition to providing low interest loans to small businesses and below-market student loans, the BND partners with local private banks to support the secondary mortgage market and buys municipal bonds to support local governments. It also played a key role in providing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is a growing movement in the United States to establish public banks at the municipal and regional levels, as well as state-wide. Some of the cities and states that are actively pursuing the creation of public banks include Los Angeles, San Francisco, the East Bay, the Central Coast in California, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, and the District of Columbia. These efforts have garnered support from both Democrats and Republicans, as demonstrated by the bipartisan legislation filed in Michigan to create a state public bank. At present, North Dakota is the only state with a statewide public bank, which is supported by a Republican-controlled legislature.