Banner Bank picked to join federal export-assistance program

Banner Bank will be the first bank headquartered in Washington state to become a partner in the U.S. Global Business Solutions Program, a federal interagency initiative designed to add 50,000 American small businesses to the nation’s exporter base by 2017.

The pilot program aims to expand the base of financial institutions and service providers that facilitate exports, adding an anticipated 250 trade-finance sources by December 2015.

The initiative is meant to make it easier and more cost-effective for exporters to use the programs and products of multiple federal agencies.

It will “bundle” U.S. government trade-finance products for lenders and exporters. The programs and products will be combined into a single menu of options that will be tailored to the stage of the exporter’s development and the capacity of the financial institution or service provider.

Leaders with the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which also participates in the program, said Banner Bank’s familiarity with the Pacific Northwest and its “demonstrated strength in [Small Business Administration] lending and its preferred lender status in the SBA’s Export Working
Capital Program,” would enhance the capabilities of the Global Solutions Program.

Banner Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of Banner Corp., has 85 locations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. It has four locations in Whatcom County; three in Bellingham, one in Ferndale.

Debbie Gelbach, a vice president with the bank, will lead its international-trade services. Gelbach joined Banner to help establish its trade-finance operations. She has worked in international trade in Washington state since 1979.

Walter McLaughlin, senior vice president and SBA manager at Banner, believes the bank’s participation in the program has the potential to contribute to economic growth in the Pacific Northwest.

“Banner’s proven SBA-lending capability, coupled with our selection as a pilot bank for Ex-Im’s Global Business Solutions Program, will certainly enable us to help more small businesses export their goods from the Northwest to other countries throughout the world,” McLaughlin said, in a news release.

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