News and Press Releases
Jan 19, 2022
First National Bank Alaska celebrates 100 years
The state’s largest locally-owned and -operated community bank has helped Alaskans shape a brighter tomorrow since 1922
ANCHORAGE – First National Bank Alaska opened with just two employees on January 30, 1922. Today, First National is Alaska’s largest community bank with 28 locations in 19 communities and more than 600 employees throughout the state. Few businesses reach 100 years, especially in Alaska, which became a state 37 years after the bank was established.
Key to reaching that milestone is investing in the Great Land. “For a century, our mission has been to help Alaskans succeed,” said Betsy Lawer, Board Chair and CEO.
That mission saw the bank through the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, a world war, earthquakes, economic booms and busts, ever-changing technology, a pandemic, and much more during the last 100 years. In 1964, Lawer’s father, then-bank president, D.H. Cuddy was the first Alaska business leader to announce plans for reconstruction after the Good Friday earthquake, unveiling blueprints for a new, nine-story building in Anchorage. “We wanted to express the faith we had in Alaska and the Alaska economy, despite this devastating earthquake,” said Lawer. “Believing in Alaska is at the foundation of our success and will be instrumental in shaping the next 100 years of this state.”
During the pandemic, First National once again stepped up to support Alaskans.
“When you’re facing unprecedented challenges, you want to do business with people you trust. First National was there helping us navigate every step. I don’t know what we would have done without their guidance, experience and expertise,” said Mike Mortensen, President and CEO of Alaska Rubber Group.
Alaska Rubber Group was one of many local businesses who turned to First National for a Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loan. In total, the bank processed more than 5,500 PPP loans to help customers weather the economic collapse caused by COVID-19.
“We are responding to the pandemic like we’ve responded to events such as earthquakes and the oil crash in the 1980s – we find ways to continue to serve and support our customers and employees,” Lawer said. In a matter of days, the bank created secure work-from-home systems and soon officers worked overtime to help Alaskans apply for PPP loans. “I’m really proud of my team in how they embraced change,” Lawer said. “During the next 100 years, I imagine people at First National will continue to be positive and innovative. We will handle whatever the new world throws at us.”
Alaskan-owned and -operated since 1922, First National proudly meets the financial needs of Alaskans. In 2021, Alaska Business readers voted the bank the “Best of Alaska Business” in the Best Place to Work category for the sixth year in a row, Best Corporate Citizen for a third year, and Best Bank/Credit Union. The same year, American Banker recognized First National as a “Best Bank to Work For” for the fourth year in a row, and Anchorage Daily News readers voted the bank one of the state’s top financial institutions in the ADN “Best of Alaska” Awards.
First National Bank Alaska is a Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender.
Contact: Marketing Department, (907) 777-3409