WALLA WALLA, Wash., May 20, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Banner Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of Banner Corporation (Nasdaq:BANR), received top honors at the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 12 th annual SBA Small Business Awards Gala on May 9 held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Wash. The SBA Seattle District Office awarded Banner Bank "Community Lender of the Year" for the SBA's fiscal year ending September 30, 2012. Each year the leadership in the SBA Seattle District Office, which serves Washington State and Northern Idaho, evaluates bank nominees on loan data from the prior fiscal year. Based on the number of SBA 7(a) and 504 loans made and the total dollar amount of both loan types, Banner Bank and one other community bank came out on top in the Community Bank division; the only time in which there was a tie. Banner Bank made 103 SBA 7(a) and 504 loans worth over $37 million in 2012 within the Seattle District Office's region. "The SBA Seattle District Office presents the lender awards to acknowledge the efforts and commitment of our highest volume lending partners," Mark Costello, Supervisory Lender Relations Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration Seattle District Office said in a prepared statement. "The Gala is the perfect venue to acknowledge the hard work all of our lenders do for their communities. The district perennially has high performing community banks and "national" banks, and because the two groups have such different characteristics, we decided years ago that it's appropriate to award and acknowledge both segments separately." Accepting the Community Lender of the Year award on behalf of Banner Bank was Walter McLaughlin, Senior Vice President, SBA Manager for Banner. "Being ranked at the top for SBA lending in the Seattle District region is a testament to the hard work and responsive, knowledgeable service our team provides to all Banner Bank clients, especially in this competitive market," McLaughlin said. "Banner understands the vital role small businesses play in the economic recovery and we strive to help entrepreneurs convert ideas into successful businesses that contribute to their communities."