Sterling Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:STSA), whose principal operating subsidiary does business in Washington, Oregon and Idaho as Sterling Bank and as Argent Bank in California, today announced that the bank is one of the top 25 Small Business Administration (SBA) 7a lenders in the country. The acquisition of Borrego Springs Bank earlier this year and a continued emphasis on relationship banking have helped fuel the bank’s commercial loan growth. “Organic loan origination has continued to increase every quarter and is a testament to our relationship banking platform,” said Dave DePillo, vice chairman and chief lending officer. “The established community relationships cultivated by our experienced, regionally knowledgeable bankers have laid the foundation for continued partnerships with businesses throughout our footprint.” From January to September 2013 the bank originated 206 loans, or a total of $63,879,125, across its four-state footprint. “I recently started working with Sterling Bank and found their bankers to be thoughtful and responsive to my business needs. Their competitive interest rates caught my attention but it is their commitment to understanding my business and team that really stands out,” said Anne-Marie Faiola, CEO of Bramble Berry, a soap and candle making supplier in Bellingham, Wash. Sterling Bank provided 21 SBA-approved loans, lending nearly $13,885,421 million to small businesses throughout Washington, 21 SBA-approved loans totaling $28,068,724 million in Oregon and 66 SBA-approved loans totaling $47,348,900 million in California. The combined total is 108 SBA loans for $76,303,044 for both SBA 7a and 504 loan programs. Sterling Bank is designated as a Preferred Lender in the SBA’s Preferred Lender Program (PLP), giving the bank the authorization to make lending decisions on behalf of the SBA. Being a Preferred Lender reflects that the bank’s business customers receive superior SBA knowledge and expertise in addition to a streamlined SBA loan-approval process. For the first three quarters of 2013, the bank reported $3.83 billion in total loan originations and purchases, a 13 percent increase from the same period one year prior.