Rural depopulation continues to put a strain on the ability of rural banks to grow, especially in the Great Plains region, according to a new study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. If rural banks can’t find growth locally, they’ll face pressure to branch out to find growth in metropolitan areas. The study showed Kansas City to be right in the heart of the rural depopulation trend. At the end of 2000, the study showed that 9.3 percent of community banks in depopulating rural areas operated branches in metropolitan areas. By year end of 2007, that rose to 17.5 percent. Carrollton-based Bank 21 is a prime example of a rural bank seeking a source of loan growth and diversification in the Kansas City area. Bank 21 experienced 82.8 percent loan growth in the fourth quarter of 2013, Citizens Bank is another example, and First Missouri Bank is likely the most recent rural bank to enter the Kansas City area.