BOZEMAN, Mont. -

New numbers show Montana is one of only two states in the nation that is not losing bank branches.

NBC Montana sat down with banking expert and MSU Professor of Economics Myles Watts to find out why the picture is so much brighter here in Montana.

The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. banks and thrifts shut 2,267 branches in 2012, not many of those in Montana. Montana is one of only two states that has seen the number of bank branches hold steady or grow.

Some economists believe that's because the banking landscape in Montana is dominated by smaller local or regional banks; rather than major lenders that were hit hard in the financial crisis.  

"A lot of towns don't have big banks. Stanford for example. Obviously Bank of America is not going to put a bank branch in Stanford, Montana," said Watts.

Financial experts say those smaller banks are more invested in face-to-face relationships with borrowers. Those types of relationships give them more incentive to leave their bank branches open.

"It allows the smaller banks to show much more interest in individual borrowers," said Watts.

Watts said the relative stability of the agriculture industry has also helped Montana banks afford all those small branches.

"Montana hasn't had a bank failure in years," said Watts.