Huntington Bank plans to hire 150 small-business bankers in the Midwest.
The regional bank is looking to make 27,000 loans -- amounting to $4 billion -- to small businesses in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky in the next three years.
The push is part of an effort to jumpstart the economy in the Midwest, the heart of the bank's business.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, Huntington has more than 600 offices. It's biggest in Ohio, followed by Michigan. In 2009, the company committed to fund $1 billion in new loans over three years in a partnership with the state of Ohio to retain and attract businesses to the state, as well as create jobs.
The bank is the seventh largest Small Business Administration lender in the U.S. It also was the No. 1 SBA lender in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Indiana in fiscal year 2009.
As part of its courtship of the market niche, Huntington plans to hold small-business CEO roundtables hosted by Huntington CEO Steve Steinour.
Pressure on bank is growing from officials, lawmakers and regulators in Washington to continue lending to credit-worthy small businesses. In December, JPMorgan announced that it planned to hire 325 small-business bankers, in addition to its force of 1,900 bankers already working in the niche.