The potential for large out-of-state banks to operate branches in New Jersey - a prospect that would be facilitated by a bill currently before the state Senate - is an impending threat to community banking as we know it, and to small businesses and their communities by extension.

The Interstate Banking/Branching Bill, which passed the state Assembly last spring and is due for a second reading before the Senate this term, would allow increased branching into the New Jersey banking community by domestic and foreign financial institutions.

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