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Source: American Bankers Association news release

The American Bankers Association will present Nebraska banker, Matt Williams, with its annual Bruning Award for outstanding leadership in agricultural banking. Williams, president of Gothenburg State Bank in Gothenburg, Neb. and former chairman of ABA, will be presented with the award at the ABA National Agricultural Bankers Conference, Nov. 9-12 in Omaha, Neb.

Named for Nebraska banker Frank Bruning -- the first recipient 17 years ago -- the award recognizes the lifetime achievement of individuals who dedicated their careers to providing credit and guidance to farmers, ranchers and their fellow agricultural bankers.

"I am humbled and honored to receive this award," said Williams. "I have known the Bruning family my entire banking career and to receive the award named for Frank Bruning, an ag banking leader in our state, is inspiring."

Williams is a fourth generation banker and has been with his family-owned bank since 1973. His agricultural roots date back to the 1890s when his family moved to Nebraska. He began working on the family farm at a young age.

Williams' great grandfather established Gothenburg State Bank in 1902. Today, about 70 percent of loans at the bank are either directly to farmers and ranchers or to businesses that support them in some way.

"Agriculture is the most important industry in our state, it accounts for one in three jobs, and for more than 100 years our bank has been committed to supporting the ag industry," said Williams.

Williams has dedicated himself to economic development in Gothenburg and Dawson County as chairman of the Gothenburg Improvement Company and president of the Gothenburg Area Chamber of Commerce. He is also a past director of the State Chamber of Commerce.

Following the agricultural and economic crisis of the early 1980s, Williams was one of three people who aggressively recruited companies to his hometown. Today, four Fortune 500 companies operate in to Gothenburg, Neb. - Frito Lay, Monsanto, Baldwin Filters and Parker Hannifin.

"Frito Lay has a corn gathering facility in Gothenburg, one of only two in the entire U.S. That means if you're eating Frito Lay corn chips west of the Mississippi, chances are they come from a grower financed by a community bank in central Nebraska," said Williams.

He has testified before the Nebraska Legislature and the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C. on important agricultural issues including crop insurance, the availability of credit and the ag economy. He was the only banker invited by the FDIC to a symposium concerning the possibility of an ag real estate bubble.

"We've just been through an agricultural cycle where ag has been profitable, but that won't last forever. And, our job as bankers is to monitor risk and need, but I am very bullish about the future of agriculture," said Williams. "As the population of the world continues to grow, it's a unique opportunity for the U.S. As a country, we are blessed with natural resources, which allow us the opportunity to be a leader in providing safe and nutritious food, not just to our own country but to the world."

Currently, Williams is a candidate for the 36th District of the Nebraska Legislature. He serves as a trustee of the University of Nebraska Foundation, UNL Ag Builders, and is a past member of the University of Nebraska President's Advisory Council, the University of Nebraska Finance Department Advisory Board. He also served as a state director for the Tom and Nancy Osborne TeamMates mentoring program.

Williams recently served as chairman of the American Bankers Association and also serves on the ABA Board. He was selected as one of 14 bankers from across the country to serve on the FDIC Advisory Committee on Community Banking. He was chairman of the Nebraska Bankers Association in 2003-2004 and has served on many NBA committees.

Williams is a lifetime member at First Presbyterian of Gothenburg, and an elder and choir member. He and his wife have a son and daughter and five grandchildren.

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