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Kansas Economy Gathering Momentum

Job Growth Strong Early in 2012

- Farmland Values Still Rising

- Housing Market Relatively Unscathed

- Business Bankruptcies Fall 25 Percent From Peak Levels



KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI--(Marketwire - June 18, 2012) - The Kansas economy gathered some momentum early in 2012, helped by a stronger job market, according to the State Monitor Report released today by BMO Capital Markets Economics.

After a sluggish year in 2011, employment growth started this year on a strong note, adding more than 10,000 jobs in the first four months of 2012. With the improvement in job growth, the unemployment rate continues to fall, and at 6.1 percent, sat well below the national average in April.

"Our commercial customers express optimism and confidence in the state's economic resiliency," said Brad Smith, Regional President for M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group. "Our local expertise, sector knowledge and mid-market focus are real advantages to helping our customers find solutions as they invest and upgrade their businesses."

Farm values continue to expand at a brisk pace amid relatively limited supply with non-irrigated farmland up more than 20 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Fed's agriculture credit conditions survey.

Housing activity remains subdued with prices up a modest .3 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2012. "The housing bust's impact on Kansas has been relatively minor," said Dr. Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist, BMO Financial Group. "While prices have stagnated since late 2006, they are merely 2 percent below peak levels versus more than 16 percent nationally."

Exports are up a solid 11.2 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2012, but momentum has cooled somewhat in recent quarters. Food product shipments continue to drive growth, while transportation equipment exports continue to fall from pre-recession levels.

Drought and weak fall harvest applied pressure to crop production in 2011, but the sector could bounce back this year. Business bankruptcies continue to moderate, and while not yet back to pre-recession levels, they have fallen about 25 percent from peak levels in 2009.

BMO Financial Group announced in 2011 that the company is making an additional $5 billion in business credit available to support the U.S. business-led recovery.

The full State Monitor report can be downloaded at www.bmocm.com/economics.

About BMO Financial Group

Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 650 branches and approximately 1,350 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.

Media Contact:
Beth Copeland
(317) 269-1395
beth.copeland@micorp.com