CHICAGO - Harris Bank, Chicago's third-largest bank, announced it will participate in and invest less than $5 million in eScout, a Summit, Mo., business-to-business marketplace.

The $29 billion-asset bank, which is wholly owned by Bank of Montreal, will give its small and midsize business clients access to eScout, which serves nearly 6,000 businesses through more than 1,200 banks including eight major regionals with assets totaling more than $230 billion.

Harris said the agreement is intended to give the bank's 44,000 business clients access to discounted prices on the goods and services they need to run their businesses by creating economies of scale in purchasing. Suppliers in eScout's network include Boise Cascade Office Products, Gateway Computers, and Sprint.

Besides purchasing services, eScout offers logistics and human resources management software, Web-based training programs, and access to business news and events.

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