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Gate City Bank receives elite award for support of its employees in National Guard and Reserves

The bank, headquartered in Fargo, is one of 15 companies to be honored in 2022 out of more than 2,700 companies nominated.

Gate City Bank President and CEO Kevin Hanson takes a closer look at the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award presented to the bank Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, in Fargo.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum
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FARGO - Fargo-based Gate City Bank was honored for exceptional support of its employees in the National Guard and Reserves in a ceremony Wednesday, Sept. 14.

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, one of just 15 given out to companies across the nation in 2022, was presented by the North Dakota Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve in the Swiontek Center at Gate City’s downtown Fargo headquarters.

Gate City President and CEO Kevin Hanson said he is honored that the bank received the award.

“What we do is very little to what they (military members) do, so we’re just very proud to support them,” Hanson said.

Gate City’s policies include continuing to give employees their full pay and benefits if they are deployed, as well as providing two weeks of paid time off when they return so they can reconnect with their families, Hanson said.


Bleau Hoge, a Gate City employee who served as a sergeant in the North Dakota Army National Guard’s 816th Military Police Company, recently completed a six-year tour with the Guard. The Bismarck man nominated Gate City for the national honor.

“I know of very few employers that take as good of care of service members as Gate City Bank does” Hoge said. “Gate City Bank understands the sacrifices our military makes and they don’t take any of it for granted. They do what they can when they can."

Gate City Bank received the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award (center) in a ceremony at the bank's downtown Fargo headquarters office on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. The bank also was honored with a 2021 Pro Patria award (left) from the North Dakota Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve state committee.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

He felt “overwheming support” whenever he was called to duty.

“Gate City never made it a hassle to leave, they didn’t complain about my absence, and instead they supported me” he said. “They made stressful situations a little less stressful. … My family and I are truly blessed to have such a great company in our lives.”

Maj Gen. Alan Dohrmann, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, commands more than 4,100 soldiers and airmen. He said Gate City is a prime example of what employers can do to back employees who also serve in the military.

“Our No. 1 priority is readiness. And to be ready, we have got to have time to train the soldiers. They need to be available when our community, state and the nation need them. And there’s obvious stress there. … But with Gate City, that stress is removed. Just the policies they put into place ensure that our Guardsman can do the training that they need to get the job done. When they’re called out by the president or the governor, they’re available, and they don’t have to worry about their civilian job and probably their family, because they know their employer is going to take care of them,” Dohrmann said.

Gate City Bank was presented with the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in a ceremony at its downtown Fargo headquarters on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Pictured from left are Dave Johnston, vice chairman of the North Dakota Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; Delton Steele, ESGR state chairman for North Dakota; Gate City President and CEO Kevin Hanson; and Steve Swiontek, chairman of the board for Gate City.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

In the last couple years, about 800 of the state’s Guardsmen have been deployed in the U.S. or abroad. That is in addition to call-ups to help with COVID-19 medical care, and fighting floods and fires.

“Gate City really does stand out in the crowd. What you do for our service members just goes above and beyond. … Gate City is all in,” Dohrmann said.


Steve Swiontek, chairman of the board of Gate City Bank, championed the bank’s generous military support policies. He is filled with “gratitude and humility” that the bank is one of the 15 winners out of more than 2,700 companies nominated.

Swiontek said he’d tell every CEO that supporting their employees in the Guard and Reserve is rewarding for all concerned.

“I would tell them it’s a win-win for everybody. It’s a win for you as an organization, it’s a win for your team member. It’s loyalty created. And also you’re trying to make a difference, and letting the military know that. … Thank them for the freedoms and liberties” that they help protect.

The Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the Department of Defense to employers for supporting National Guard and Reserve members.

ESGR seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of National Guard and Reserve members.

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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