SENECA, Mo. — A Seneca-based bank has become the first Native American-owned bank to join a financial exchange that is focused on providing services to small- and mid-sized banks.

The American Financial Exchange announced this week that People's Bank of Seneca has joined as a member.

Deron Burr, president and CEO of the bank, said in a statement that membership opens up more services to the bank.

The exchange has 163 members across the country, 133 of which are banks. Other members include broker-dealers, private equity firms, business development corporations, hedge funds, futures commission merchants, insurance companies, asset managers and finance companies. Belonging to the exchange helps widen the bank's market for loans, and adds stability to interest rates.

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe is a majority shareholder of the bank, which was founded in 1996. It has since grown to five locations in Seneca and Joplin.

"They started something from scratch there," said Chief Glenna Wallace, of the tribe. "We bought stock in the bank at the beginning and gradually increased until we reached majority level. We're very pleased with the management, which makes excellent decisions for them and us."

The bank is not the first minority-owned bank to join the exchange. Its members also include banks with majority ownership by Asian-American, Hispanic and African-American groups.

Having such banks join is a goal of the exchange, according to Richard Sandor, chairman and CEO of the exchange.

"These institutions play a critical role in serving communities all over the country," Sandor said in a statement.

Joe Hadsall is the digital editor for The Joplin Globe. He has been the editor of the former Nixa News-Enterprise and has worked for the Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine.

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