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Short Shrift for Small Banks

Jason Judd
The Baltimore Sun

If our largest banks are the "one-percenters" of American capitalism, small business is our 99.

And, just as our largest corporations are ruling the roost in Washington, so too do they rule in Annapolis. In fact, Maryland's politics have become so lopsided over the last decade that support for Maryland's small businesses has degenerated into a mere talking point — "backbone of our economy," "the engine of economic growth," etc.

Here's Exhibit A. In spite of all the talk from big business groups about taxes and regulation in Maryland, the top issue for small businesses is lending. They need affordable and reliable credit to grow their businesses.

We know this anecdotally from the hundreds of conversations my organization, Maryland Business, has conducted around the state, and from the numbers — the latest Pepperdine University survey of small business puts access to credit at the top of the list.

Read Putting Maryland Money Back To Work For Maryland: Introducing The Maryland Partnership Bank

You could fairly expect that the legislators singing hymns to Maryland's small business owners would get right on it. You would expect them to get behind Maryland's Lend Local Act, a bill in the current legislative session. HB571 and SB792 would put more of the state's deposits in the community banks that are lending to our small businesses.

And you'd be wrong.

The Maryland Bankers Association objects, and the hymns in Annapolis have stopped.

The banks' lobbyists object that the bill encourages the state to shift more of Maryland's public dollars to work in the community banks that are helping Maryland's economy recover.


We should stop rewarding giants like Bank of America with our public deposits. With Bank of America, Maryland's deposits are as likely to be invested in Wall Street trading desks, Brazilian steel mills or Chinese high-speed rail projects as in Maryland's small businesses.