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Cable Network Interviews Sioux Falls Attorney About Citibank

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A Sioux Falls man has been appearing on a national cable network sharing how South Dakota became a leader in the financial services sector.   The National Geographic Channel interviewed attorney Doug Hajek about the effort to bring credit card giant Citibank to Sioux Falls.

As Western Bank's mortgage division manager in the early 1980s, Doug Hajek was rubbing shoulders with Citibank from the very beginning.

"Citibank had its initial offices in our bank, Western Bank, before their new building was built," Hajek said.

In 1980, South Dakota lawmakers eliminated interest rate caps that banks could charge customers, setting the stage for Citibank's arrival in Sioux Falls.   Then-Governor Bill Janklow rallied support for inviting Citibank to leave New York and relocate here.  

"And the true public interest in South Dakota is one, a shortage of capital.  Two, the public interest in this state is economic development through jobs," Janklow said.

Nearly 40-years later, bringing Citibank to Sioux Falls seems like a no-brainer, now.  But back then, there was pushback from bankers who were concerned about bringing another competitor into the market.

"They didn't just say alright, right away, but they started out with meeting in Sioux Falls and then in Pierre and in the end, the South Dakota bankers said, yeah, we're for this," Hajek said.

Hajek says he was surprised that the National Geographic Channel wanted to interview him for a documentary about the early days of the credit card industry.  But Hajek says it's important to give Citibank credit for changing South Dakota's economy.

"It's just had a ripple effect not just throughout Sioux Falls, but the entire state," Hajek said.

Part of that ripple effect, Hajek says, included the Sioux Falls post office, which had to boost capacity to handle the millions of credit card bills going out and payments coming into Citibank.

Hajek says Citibank's construction of a new headquarters in southwest Sioux Falls shows the company's commitment to South Dakota for decades to come.  

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