First Dakota National Bank has pledged $250,000 to Onward Yankton for community development projects, the largest gift received by the nonprofit organization since it announced its two million dollar capital campaign in May.
Larry Ness, chief executive officer of First Dakota National Bank and one of the early supporters of Onward Yankton, said the bank’s contribution will provide additional opportunities for the community’s youth and emerging entrepreneurs, as well as help create a thriving creative district downtown.
“Onward Yankton has really touched a nerve in our community,” Ness said. “We believe it is important to help them financially to get their feet on the ground and get moving- we think it’s going to be a big thing for Yankton. My personal motto has always been, ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’ Those are 10 two-letter words I think we should all live by.”
Robert Stephenson, chief operating officer for First Dakota National Bank, stressed the importance of supporting community development efforts like Onward Yankton to attract and retain young families in the Yankton area and build a better lifestyle for everyone in the community.
“We can’t sit back and wait to hope others make it happen,” Stephenson said. “We all have to support things together to make things happen, and it takes an investment to do that.”
Onward Yankton is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the public interest in community preservation and improvement by encouraging the development of entrepreneurial thinking and activity. The organization focuses on three core missions: Promoting and fostering entrepreneurship, creating strong partnerships with local education entities and developing a thriving creative downtown district.
Tabitha Likness, who serves on Onward Yankton’s board of directors, said First Dakota National Bank’s contribution demonstrates true commitment to the Yankton community.
“This generous gift from First Dakota National Bank is critical in advancing Onward Yankton’s mission to help small towns like Yankton not just survive, but thrive,” Likness said. “We hope other businesses and community advocates share First Dakota National Bank’s passion for Yankton and consider supporting Onward Yankton as we work to build our community.”
Funds from the First Dakota National Bank gift will be used to support upcoming Onward Yankton projects. Onward Yankton recently applied to Dakota Resources’ Design South Dakota, a program that helps small towns shape their future through an intensive community design and planning event. Onward Yankton also applied to be a part of Dakota Rising, a three-year Dakota Resources program that helps rural entrepreneurs discover new ways to grow their business.