Associated’s new CEO likes where bank, Midwest economy are going

 Associated’s new CEO likes where bank, Midwest economy are going

During a visit last week to a restaurant in Minneapolis, which is one of the top markets for Associated Banc-Corp, the company’s new CEO was pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd.

“It was a 45-minute wait, and I couldn’t have been more happy,” Andrew Harmening said. “To me, that’s a sign that something’s happening, and our people are getting more comfortable in our footprint.”

Harmening took over the chief executive spot at the Green Bay, Wisconsin-based company in April, as the economy started to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent interview, he was upbeat about not only the economic recovery, but also Associated’s lending prospects.

As of March, only about $37 million in loans at Associated were still in deferral, down from more than $1.5 billion at the height of the crisis last year. “To me, that is a really, really good sign,” Harmening said. Total nonperforming assets have also been on the…

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