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Celebrating 63 years of being Not for Sale

It’s summer 1961. John F. Kennedy is President and just met with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev for the Vienna Summit. Disney’s The Parent Trap just hit movie theaters. A gallon of gas costs you a quarter, and .21 cents will buy you a loaf of bread. Locally, the Quad City Braves, now the River Bandits, had just seen a no-hitter and the only perfect game in franchise history from Dennis Ribant. And the Quad Cities would welcome its newest banking partner, known then as Blackhawk State Bank.

Area business leaders of the time Orville McCullough, Mickey Blaser, Roy McGovern, Paul Dugan, Cecil Bickle, Bob Scott and Grant Brissman saw a need for a banking option south of Rock Island, so Blackhawk State Bank opened in downtown Milan, IL in June 1961 with 8 employees and $200,000 in capital.

After its first decade in business, the bank welcomed Gerard (Gerry) Huiskamp as Executive Vice President and Cashier in December 1973. Just four months later he would be named president of the bank, and would serve in that role for 40 more years.

Under Huiskamp’s stewardship the bank saw steady growth when many other local institutions were closing up shop or merging with larger entities. Dedicated to remaining locally owned and operated, the bank became committed to the creed: Not for Sale.

Under that creed and steadfast leadership, the bank was well positioned when opportunities for expansion arose at the turn of the century. Between 2000 and 2011, the bank added 11 branches through both new construction and acquisitions.

The bank would also add the Financial Services division, prompting a name change in 2008 from Blackhawk State Bank to Blackhawk Bank & Trust.

The bank celebrated its 50th anniversary with 13 branches, 195 employees and $875 million in assets. But the growth and expansion didn’t stop there. In 2014, Jim Huiskamp assumed the role of president while his father, Gerry, remained Chairman of the Board.

Under Jim’s 10 years of leadership the bank has acquired two more branch locations and expanded into the Bettendorf community with the construction of a new branch. Now in 2024, the bank sits at $1.7 billion in assets with over 220 employees supporting 18 locations, 15 ITMs, and 20 ATMs throughout the Quad Cities area serving both sides of the river.

Its no secret that a locally grown, owned, and operated bank turning 63 years old is an achievement denied to many who sold out to large corporate machines. Blackhawk Bank & Trust is proud to be so locally rooted while also remaining safe, solid, secure and Not for Sale.