WALLA WALLA, Wash., Nov. 5, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Banner Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of Banner Corporation (Nasdaq:BANR), announced today that it has become the latest partner-bank in the U.S. Global Business Solutions Program, a new interagency initiative designed to expand the reach of federal export assistance and add 50,000 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. "We are delighted to partner with Banner Bank as part of the U.S. Global Solutions Program," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. "Banner Bank's support of U.S. exporters enhances the appeal of the 'Made in America' brand abroad and boosts small-business jobs here at home." Banner Bank is the only bank headquartered in Washington state currently participating in the program. "Banner Bank is a perfect fit to partner with Ex-Im Bank in the U.S. Global Business Solutions initiative to increase exports from small businesses," said James Burrows, Acting Senior Vice President, Small Business for Ex-Im Bank. "Banner's familiarity with the region and keen insight into the challenges and needs of small businesses in the northwest was a considerable benefit to Ex-Im as we made our selection for a pilot bank in Washington. Banner's demonstrated strength in SBA lending and its preferred lender status in the SBA's Export Working Capital Program significantly enhances our offerings through the U.S. Global Solutions Program." Leading Banner Bank's International Trade services is Debbie Gelbach, First Vice President. Gelbach joined Banner to help establish the trade finance operations at Banner and has worked in international trade in Washington State since 1979. "Being selected as the only regional bank headquartered in Washington State to participate in the U.S. Global Business Solutions initiative demonstrates Banner's capabilities in international trade finance and our commitment to this critical sector of the market," Gelbach said. "Inclusion as a pilot bank for Export-Import Bank, coupled with our lending resources through the Small Business Administration, our involvement in this initiative opens a world of opportunities for our clients looking to expand the reach of their businesses overseas. We have always been able to guide our clients through the intricacies of importing and exporting goods and services through traditional trade products. Now our capabilities are expanded through our selection by Ex-Im Bank to partner with them on this financing initiative."