Business leaders are calling for a $200 million program to build Washington State business banks that will provide a platform for small businesses to connect with credit and banking services and the Washington State Department of Revenue.
The initiative would be the second such effort in the state, after a $60 million business credit card program in 2011.
But it’s a different kind of initiative than what some of its backers are hoping for.
“There is no need for any new banks, and this is not about building a bank to be a lender to the community,” said Larry Smith, president of the Washington Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s about getting businesses back on the right path.”
For now, the state Department of Finance has a proposal in the works that would make up the new bank.
It calls for the establishment of a $150 million business finance program that will be funded by the state’s Business Tax Credit Program and would have a statewide footprint of 150,000 businesses and 100,000 workers.
It also would allow for a new credit card company, a credit union, a payment gateway and a credit card processing company to be established.
The new bank would provide for a 10 percent fee for businesses, the same rate that other credit card companies charge, and allow for up to five credit card accounts.
The new bank will be open in late 2020 and the new credit cards would be available by December 2022.
It’s also a bold step for a state that’s seen the rise of credit card startups, which are often financed through venture capital and small-dollar funding.
In addition to the credit card venture, the new program would create a nonprofit bank to serve Washington businesses, with a focus on small-business owners.
And it would provide the financial support for a variety of new initiatives that would include business lending programs, a business loan program, a financial services program and more.
But there are other groups who have their sights set on a new bank, as well.
Some have long wanted to build their own.
In 2016, the Seattle Times published a list of 25 people and companies who wanted to create a new state bank to help Washington businesses compete with other states in the marketplace.
But that list included none of the large national banks.
It was an attempt to highlight the lack of state banks in other states and, by association, the lack in Washington.
“It’s not about having a state bank,” said John C. Taggart, president and CEO of the National Association of State Banks, a trade group.
“We need to get to a place where there’s a national banking system that we can compete with.”
Jay Inslee, who was not in favor of creating a state banking system, said the initiative is “the first step in making it happen.”
Inslee said the goal of the new business credit bank is to “re-align Washington with other markets around the country” and to “bring in local credit, and local expertise to our economy.”
The goal of that is to help businesses grow in Washington, he said.
“I believe this is a good investment for our state,” Inslee said.
“I think this is an opportunity for Washington to be part of the national economy.
It’s an opportunity to bring in a lot of new people into our state and to build jobs in the economy.
We have the resources to do it.”
The new state credit card bank will provide an incentive to Washington businesses and small businesses, and is expected to be able to help bring in more money to the state than the current credit card loan program that serves just about half of Washington’s economy.
Inslee is expected at a news conference Friday to announce a plan to create the new state business bank.
The initiative would also be the first major federal bank created by the new president of his new business advisory council, the Washington Economic Development Council.
The president of that council, Kevin Johnson, is also chairman of the state department of finance, which will oversee the bank.