Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) in Columbus, Ohio, has committed $25 million to help launch a microlending program for small businesses in Michigan.

The $57 billion-asset Huntington is partnering with the state of Michigan and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to form the Pure Michigan Micro Lending Initiative, according to the company's Monday press release. The program plans to make up to $250 million in small-businesses loans available in an effort to reduce unemployment and underemployment throughout the state. Community microlenders participating in the program will distribute the funds to small business owners in need of capital.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will provide additional backing for the program, according to the release. Huntington urged other Michigan banks to follow its example and commit lending funds to bolster the state's economy.

The program launched Monday in Detroit, where Huntington will provide $5 million to the Detroit Development Fund, a community microlender, through 2018.

"Huntington approached the Michigan Economic Development Corporation with the concept of a repeatable microlending program structure to help small businesses grow and hire additional employees within Michigan communities," Jim Dunlap, a regional and commercial banking director at Huntington, said in the release. "The program represents a unique next phase of our partnership with the state toward greater growth and prosperity. It is also an important first step toward filling a funding gap for promising small businesses throughout Michigan, for hard-working entrepreneurs who would otherwise have difficulty getting the specialized lending support they need."

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