Working together to attract businesses to their market, 13 banks have contributed to an economic development fund designed to boost the supply of commercial space along a corridor linking Spokane, Wash., with Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
So far the banks have raised $5 million to entice businesses to build factories, warehouses, and call centers in the area.
"We just don't have the facilities to attract companies," said Eric Davis, executive vice president of Washington Bank in Spokane, which is taking a lead role.
Mr. Davis said local banks have usually shied away from lending to developers for projects that have no signed tenants. But by working with a dozen other banks, "we share the risk," he said.
During this decade smaller banks have become more receptive to pooling resources, sharing expertise and risk in such ventures, said Eric Weaver, executive director of Leaders for Community Development, a San Jose, Calif., multibank community development corporation.
"It's cost-effective for these banks and helps to create future markets for them down the road," Mr. Weaver said.
The idea for the fund arose this year after a Fortune 500 company spurned the region because it could not find suitable space.
It was one of several potential deals that have fallen through, according to Ken Olson, vice president of Spokane's Area Economic Development Council.
"Companies that were looking here turned away," he said. "We hope to develop an inventory to lure businesses."
The banks-which range in assets from $60 million to $92.8 billion-plan to continue contributing to the fund as long as demand exists, Mr. Davis said. Each bank's contribution is based on its asset size.
Participants will market the program to regional developers this month and will solicit proposals for projects on undeveloped parcels of industrially zoned land. Build-to-suit projects will also be considered.